As we enter the last month of the year I am more keen than usual to mark Advent. Not with a sticky, chocolately calendar but with holly, flowers and colour.
This is the last month of an extremely difficult year. 58,000 UK dead since March, in a mere eight months. To put that in perspective 70,000 UK civilians died in the whole six years of WW2.
In that war people could still go out and enjoy a film or newsreel at The Regal or The Odeon. They could go to work, travel on buses, visit friends, go to dances. Yes they had to endure the blackout and bombs but thankfully life, as they knew it, was still there for the taking. They didn’t have to stay home-save lives.
But for us, two generations after WW2, the last week of March began badly. I remember queuing for groceries, watching empty buses sail by and, hearing from others, that supermarkets were stripped of nutritious foods. Who could fail to be moved by the tv interview of the absolutely knackered nurse crying into the camera as her supermarket had no food left and she had nothing to eat.
By April I couldn’t get a delivery slot with Sainsburys and relied on a farm shop, local butcher and great friends and neighbours to provide me with groceries.
Come May we were all used to face masks, zoom, home baking, hand sanitiser, leaving goodies on each others’ doorsteps and hot weather. It was a beautiful spring with very little traffic. And there had been a debate about whether face mask wearing would help stop the spread of coronavirus. It seems astonishing now.
In May we had our regular grocery deliveries back again and I began to venture out much more. I also spent a lot of time in the garden, improving it, along with a friend. But by July I began to get tired. I’d done charity sales and grown a lot of vegetables. I needed to do so much cutting back in the garden and I felt in great need of a holiday. But travel was verboten.
And, in September, to add to the weariness, our breakfast room ceiling fell in. That created even more toil. It had been a hard year and once that was finished off and painted Richard and I finally went on holiday.
After that I began to pick up. There was far less to do in the garden and the trip to Devon revived us. In October we travelled there again. But we had to rush home ahead of lockdown#2.
This last month has been a duller than usual November. Grey skies have made an uninspiring backdrop to leafless trees. But we are still here. We haven’t had covid_19. We haven’t been laid off and we aren’t looking at a lonely Christmas nor a cold, hungry one.
In a couple of weeks I shall start making my Christmas charity donations. This year the need seems greater than ever. We can only pray that the vaccine roll out will be earlier rather than later.
We all need more colour in our lives.