So late so soon

Tree of Life

How did it get so late so soon?

Dr Seuss

Just minutes ago it seems, it was summer, and now it’s dark at five o’clock and mornings are frosty. This year of lockdowns hasn’t followed a normal pattern and now we face a Covid Christmas. For children, it must seem that there has always been Covid, people in masks, bubbles in school, hand sanitiser in shops. When Covid is done, says Wee Boy, we can meet again. I am very happy to say that we can meet as a family on Christmas Eve as usual, having reconciled ourselves to the ‘digital Christmas’ we might have had. However, we are planning to be mostly outside under the gazebo, rather than round the big table in the kitchen.

As always, the card is selected at random from the Scarpina Tarot. And, as always, I am surprised at how appropriate it can be. After months of stasis, this transitional card finally moves us forhward. Driving The Chariot, but without much control, our young hero sets out on a new journey. Beneath the wheels are green shoots which might indicate growth and hope for the future. The black and white horses twist and pull, their positive and negative energies making navigation uncertain. This youth may be riding for a fall.

After months of lockdowns and restrictions, a vaccine brings a move forward, even with doubts and uncertainties.

I have been literally stuck at home with my worsening knee problem. I am hoping to have an x-ray very soon followed by a physiotherapy assessment. I really want to get back to walking, Zumba and swimming in the harbour. Frustrating though it is, I have had more time for reading. The Familiars by Stacey Hall, The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal, Tidelands by Philippa Gregory and Bone China by Laura Purcell all feed my appetite for slightly creepy historical fiction. I’ve enjoyed these modern psychological thrillers too: Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins, I Found You by Lisa Jewel, The Lying Game by Ruth Ware and The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd. For good forensic crime stories set in Scotland, Lin Anderson keeps writing her Rhona MacLeod series and I keep reading them. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is an intriguing new novel about twins who adopt different racial identities. Non-fiction completes my list. I found Court No I The Old Bailey by Thomas Grant a fascinating read. I’ve just finished Janice Galloway’s autobiographical books This is not about me and ALL MADE UP. She writes with painful honesty about her childhood and teenage years in Saltcoats. Having been a fan of her other books, I am fascinated by her own life story.

I’ve been listening to a lot of music too, using Amazon vouchers I was lucky enough to get for my birthday to top up my MP3 collection. It’s great having my old Bob Dylan albums to listen to in order: Freewheelin, Blonde on Blonde, Bringing it all Back Home, John Wesley Harding, Blood on the Tracks……. Christmas music has always been part of our lives, singing in our Choir Concert, but of course that’s not happening this December. However, we’re going to rehearse some German carols to send by video to B’s family in Leverkusen.

I am, unusually, fairly well prepared for Christmas. Not as prepared as I was many years ago, awaiting the birth of my first child, but presents are bought, as well as wrapping paper, cards and chocolate tree decorations. I remember feeling quite sad the first year there were still some left on the tree when I took it down, the children having grown up and left home. Mind you, I just ate them myself. I’ve even bought some new rubber stamps for making gift tags. On Friday we head for Blairadam Forest for our tree but Covid means we don’t get to choose it, but order by size and type and get it in a net.

I have a few sedentary projects underway. A jumper for Son, always a lot of knitting as he’s so tall, but he is most appreciative, a crochet retro baby kaftan for B’s wee niece in Germany and a painting – a diptych featuring Miles Morales and other Marvel characters with a Brooklyn background. And then there’s the jigsaw, started during the first lockdown, which must be finished in time to begin this year’s new Christmas one.

I have become a huge fan of online shopping and will happily spend hours scrolling through websites, often lat ofe at night, but have learned to exert restraint. Sometimes you just don’t actually need all the stuff you put in that basket. Sleeping on it is a good idea. I do love to get parcels and am quite disappointed on a day when nothing arrives. Cannyrob has sourced some specialist food from sites around the UK as well as a variety of wines. We even get pies from Lochinver Larder. They are really good. My favourite purchase has to be the large box containing my rattan reindeer. For years I have lurked around garden centres in November, eyeing up families of light-up animals. This year, I thought, of all years, I’m going to have one. And here she is. She is called Dancer. Wee Boy chose her name.

And so this is Christmas, and what have we done? (John Lennon)l

Quite a lot, actually. I feel I’ve learned from all that’s happened. I value my relationships with my friends and family, tested by distance but made closer through the efforts we’ve all made to keep in touch. We’ve talked about feelings, instead of leaving things unsaid. Cannyrob and I have co-existed in a way we never did when we led busy pre-Covid lives, enjoying the house and the garden together. We have been fortunate; no-one close to us has become seriously ill. We have a home and our pensions, but there are many this winter who are struggling. Let’s hope that out of this crisis we can build a fairer society.

Keep in touch in the usual ways. This blog has connected me with so many people and helped combat the isolation we all feel at times. Remember you can email me privately at

Wishing you health, happiness and a little bit of Christmas magic.

PS The picture at the top of the post is called Tree of Life. It is not one of mine but I have permission to share it

By Elinor Kirk

Granma of WeeBoy, mum of Daughter, Son and Daughter, partner of Cannyrob, blogger since 1999, retired dramatherapist, would-be artist with Gothic leanings.

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