A mov­ing Christ­mas tale

Will the colum­nist make it into her new home be­fore the yuletide cel­e­bra­tions?

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - by­maryschnei­der Check out Mary on Face­book at www.face­book.com/mary. sch­nei­der.writer. Reader re­sponse can be di­rected to star2@thes­tar. com.my.

AS I write this, I’m sit­ting at my desk in my study sur­rounded by pack­ing boxes. Christ­mas is ex­actly six days away, and I’m mov­ing house for the sec­ond time this year. I must have con­sumed a huge num­ber of mind-al­ter­ing drugs to agree to this.

I have ex­actly five days in which to set up house and be ready to wel­come my Yuletide guests: my part­ner’s par­ents and his aunt.

Also, just to make life a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing, all the spare keys to the cur­rent house have been in­ad­ver­tently stashed away into one of the hun­dreds of boxes that the men from the trans­port com­pany are cur­rently load­ing onto a large truck. These keys must be found and re­turned to my land­lord by sun­down.

I’m now sit­ting in the old lounge on a plas­tic-cov­ered chair that is stick­ing to the back of my legs. Two men, who seem to be de­void of the pre­req­ui­site mus­cu­la­ture for re­moval work, are now man­han­dling my desk down the stairs, while my part­ner, a man who knows his sta­tion in life, is vac­u­um­ing the now empty study.

I have just heard a loud bump, but I refuse to go and in­ves­ti­gate. The side of my leather desk could now be sport­ing a large tear, or the plas­ter wall on the stair­case could have an un­sightly gouge, or the wooden stairs could be scratched be­yond recog­ni­tion, but I don’t want to know about it just yet. Of course, one of the un-mus­cu­lar guys could have fallen on his head, cracked his neck and be ly­ing paral­ysed at the foot of the stairs, but hope­fully he’s in­sured.

As I let the men get on with their work, I con­tem­plate Christ­mas day. Nei­ther my son, who is now liv­ing in the United States, or his sis­ter, who is un­der­go­ing an in­tern­ship in France, can make it home over the fes­tive sea­son.

I try not to think about the empty spots around the Christ­mas ta­ble, but I’m fail­ing mis­er­ably.

One of the men has just en­quired about the wine cooler sit­ting in a cor­ner of the lounge. “Is this some sort of stereo sys­tem?” he asks.

“Stereo sys­tem?” I say, try­ing not to laugh.

“Yes, I’ve seen them like this be­fore.”

The only way that I would con­fuse a stereo sys­tem with a wine cooler would be if I were to con­sume my en­tire wine col­lec­tion at one sit­ting and mis­take the ther­mo­stat panel for a ra­dio sta­tion set­ting.

“It’s a wine cooler,” I say. “But I’m sure there are some stereo sys­tems out there that look quite sim­i­lar.”

“You prob­a­bly get more en­joy­ment out of the wine,” he says. He then flashes me a crooked smile and pushes my new found stereo sys­tem out the front door.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes. Christ­mas lunch.

I think the next time I see my chil­dren, I will cel­e­brate Christ­mas with them, no mat­ter what time of the year it is.

I mean to say, there is no rule that says that come July you can’t put up a Christ­mas tree (or put it up in De­cem­ber and keep it up all year round), or roast a gi­ant turkey that ev­ery­one de­spises af­ter three days of eat­ing noth­ing else, or play Christ­mas car­ols on the cool stereo sys­tem.

My part­ner has just an­nounced that our four-poster bed is too big to come down the stairs. The same bed that was car­ried up those same stairs ear­lier this year has ob­vi­ously grown. I go to in­ves­ti­gate.

Sure enough, no mat­ter which way the men turn the enor­mous bed head it won’t fit down the stair­case. What we need is a math­e­ma­ti­cian to come up with a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem, but since there are none to be had at short no­tice my part­ner de­cides to saw the top of the bed off.

I don’t ex­actly agree with this cava­lier at­ti­tude, but Christ­mas is just around the cor­ner and I don’t want to spoil the Yuletide spirit. As I lis­ten to the sound of ag­gres­sive saw­ing com­ing from up­stairs, I re­treat to the lounge and start singing Christ­mas car­ols out loud.

Af­ter the third ren­di­tion of We Wish You A Merry Christ­mas I feel un­usu­ally calm.

I’ve made up my mind that my Christ­mas will be as merry as I de­cide it will be, and my chil­dren will be with me in spirit as I en­joy my­self with my part­ner and his fam­ily.

Be­sides, how many peo­ple are lucky enough to be able cel­e­brate Christ­mas twice a year?

Peace and good­will to all read­ers.

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