On Saturday, my very wonderful friend Kirk came for his annual Xmas visit. In a classic case of too much going on, I also had tickets that evening for my husband and I to attend our glamorous Black and Red Ball organised by the Dance School we are members of. Kirk volunteered to help my older daughters babysit my little ones while I waltzed, jived and foxtrotted the night away (I did mention that Kirk was very wonderful) and he even bought a couple of new release DVDs to make a movie night of it. The Mince Pie flavoured popcorn remained unopened ( Kirk is a very wonderful friend with a sometimes alarmingly experimental taste in snacks) but the movie night was much appreciated and enjoyed.
I loved the Ball. I didn't exactly feel like a princess in an old black and red dress that belonged to one of my daughters and hair that I'd barely had time to brush, let alone style, but the heart of a dancer (albeit a pretty rubbish one) beat within me. We watched an amazing demonstration of ballroom at its best by reigning professional champions, Warren and Kristi Boyce. Kristi's costumes were as stunning as the smiles were fixed. I did not at any time try to recreate their grace, strength and fluidity during the 'general dancing' segments but my latin 'hip action' did seem to improve exponentially with amount of red wine consumed.
It was a great night let down slightly by shoes and vegetarianism.
In terms of shoes, I had never got round to buying myself the sort of sparkly fabulous dancing shoes that my mother in law has in abundance (unfortunately we do not share the same shoe size) so I wore my training dance shoes which are practical, great to dance in and hideously ugly. My husband on the other hand had his 'Freed of London Patent ballroom shoes' - but they gave him blisters!!
As for being vegetarian, the meal started reasonably well with a tomato and basil soup but when the spinach and ricotta cannelloni was served in a tomato and basil sauce suspiciously similar to the previous course, I began to look longingly at the turkey with all the trimmngs. However, the brussel sprouts were so undercooked that any attempt to stab them with a fork had the tendency to send them off on an unpredictable trajectory across the tablecloth. Maybe the cannelloni was not such a bad option after all.
The morning after the ball, I found out that my daughter Charis had achieved a Pass with Distinction in her grade 5 piano exam. I could not express in any normal way how proud I was of her so instead began a relentless campaign to trick her into passing me things, allowing me to pass or getting her to pass me after which I could declare that she had 'passsed with distinction'. During Sunday dinner, our guest of honour, Kirk (who as well as being a wonderful friend is the master of the pun) almost manage to pull off a 'Parsnip with distinction' moment but by now Charis was getting wise to the carefull manipulation of circumstances to make the tricks work. It was my aim to catch her unawares 10 times before midnight. I think I may have amassed double that target!
|Charis with Kirk deliberating his "Pass-nip with Distinction" pun|
I was incredibly proud of Charis for passing her grade five (with distinction!) and just as proud of what a good sport she was about my chosen method of rejoicing in the fact. The following day, Kirk and I collaborated to put together a celebration cake for her. She didn't realise for some hours that the chocolate fingers were arranged to look like the keys of a piano but I think she was pleased!
I had further reason to be filled with pride by Charis. On Sunday evening she played piano and sang in the local church's Carols by Candlelight service. I love Carol Services and missed the one I usually attend because it clashed with my little Addy's Xmas Play. It was wonderful to see Charis, confident and serene as a member of the choir and astonishingly good as she played the accompaniment to a lovely little song I'd never heard before called This Tiny Child. A single tear did escape from my eye as I felt moved by the story of the Nativity.
I was less moved by the sermon which attempted to describe the infant Jesus in 9 words "He cries. He Wees. He saves the World. Godbaby". It didn't really do it for me on any level!
My little ones were not too embarrassingly noisy as they played with toys and did arts and crafts in the area especially designated for such activity.
As Monday saw my husband back at work and the kids back at school, Kirk and I enjoyed a relatively calm day doing a bit of local shopping, planning the piano cake and cooking dinner. My calm was well and truly shattered when my eldest daughter came round for our weekly run with the running club. It was not my daughter's arrival that shattered the calm or even the run per se. It was the rain.
In all the months that I have been running regularly, the worst the weather has thrown in my direction has been a little light drizzle. Not so on this occasion. It seemed as though all the rain we had thus far managed to avoid had saved itself up to create the sort of downpour that would probably have been familiar to Noah during the forty days and nights of Biblical flooding. Baggy shorts and trousers took on the appearance of skin tight lycra as sodden fabric clung to legs. I have never been so soaked through. Three miles of splashing along in surface water and deeper puddles, unable to generate enough body heat to counter the icy wetness against skin does not sound like fun - but I loved it. I felt very alive and when I did finally get home to discard saturated running gear and dry myself, the warm all over glow was incredible. It made me appreciate the simple pleasures of a cosy living room, unchallenging TV viewing and the company of loved ones.
Today, Kirk had to return to his home in London. A hearty veggie Wetherspoon breakfast marked the end of his visit. I loved every minute of his stay and I wish I could see him (and several other dear friends that live all across the country) more regularly.
I am so grateful for the people in my life that support me, make me laugh, make me proud, share experiences and love me. Christmas is a good excuse to remember this.