Sunday, January 6

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Christmas has been and gone; with it, last year passed too. For thirteen days there was family. There was fresh air as well, bright mornings that shaded into grey afternoons and then cold evenings. The evenings were clear; one could see the stars precisely as at times they fluttered in various colours of white. On Christmas morning there was a thick frost on everything in the garden, pale shapes crackling in the breeze while in warmth we bid each other Merry Christmas and the place smelled of cooking turkey. My brother has his family now, the holiday rejuvenated by his two children. Without them, my mother still loves the occasion: the house decorated from head to toe in a plethora of nativity scenes, cards (past – present) tacked to doorways, fake snow on the banister, snowmen and polar bears scattered in poses about the house, the smell of sweet candles, flashing twinkle lights, three fully-decorated trees that stretch to the ceiling, tinsel hanging from every wall, soft toys that sing out a tune and dance when you squeeze their hand, and the incessant smell of cakes and food being cooked. My brother turns up. His wife holds the babe with one arm and puts the other around us as she greets everyone. My brother carries all the bags in, shakes hands with the kind of grip that the building industry taught us all. His eldest daughter comes in dragging a new doll whose hair is already quite entangled and ragged; she has not slept in the car and is in a good mood.
The holiday is relaxing. In early afternoon the light is already beginning to fade and we all go for a walk. As we go along, I remark to myself how much quieter everything is, how much whiter. A part of me – quite large and torn – misses London, while I enjoy being part of the family unit, as though it were my natural state and I never realised how much I missed it. There is no one else about and behind lace curtains there are glows of families reclined. It all looks so warm and familiar. When we get home, my mother and I play Scrabble, eight tiles. Maybe she will ask my father to join in, but he complains that he is no good and so we help him out and he is uninterested. We drink and eat snacks. Thinking back on it now, it seems like a good way for everything to be.
Sometimes at night I am gripped by a desire to write. I sit down and nothing comes.
That is where I am. Maybe that will change with the new year.
Work begins again tomorrow. It begins properly. Last week was nothing but a gentle easing in. I don’t know if things will change. I’m trying to take it easier. I don’t take the solstice lightly! Every day is measured in light and dark as I gauge the oncoming summer. Sooner still will be spring and colour again onto my sad streets. There is the city a bit more for these lonely months, cold and draughts, until my mother’s birthday on Valentine’s Day and then things won’t seem so far away. Over the holiday my beard grew and then today I cut it back. I trimmed my beard on the Feast of the Epiphany and lit candles about the flat, listened to hip hop and found ways to deal with how my nerves jangled about for no good reason at all.
Often I am gripped with a desire to write. I sit down and nothing comes. Here I am. I hope that changes this new year.

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