Margaret Henderson Smith Margaret Henderson Smith
Margaret Henderson Smith
‘I’ve got it all wrong again!’

I’m making the most of today. I’ve got a whole day to finish the Christmas cards off. A whole day to get those party invites sorted. A whole day to tie Christmas off. Oh and I’ve been forgiven! My better-half’s come down on the side of justice. He’s admitted it! Christmas shopping just isn’t his thing! In any case it’s fait accompli! It’s all done! All over and done with! He’s smiling! He’s returned to handsome again! Which is surprising since the car’s been thoroughly obliging! Playing up again! Oh the boot seems to be behaving itself since its improvised repair but now the car’s leaking water. Leaking water onto the drive. I was right! We’re destined to have a Mercedes. A silver Mercedes just like Mr. Sanderson’s. It’s inevitable! Even the garage have sent it back dripping. Well, they’re just minute drips, but as the plumber said when he came to mend our minutely dripping radiator. Little drips very soon turn into big drips and big drips turn into floods. I’m sure it’s got to be the same for cars. We can’t be having the engine ablaze because all the water’s dripped out! No! We can’t be on fire and dripping water through that very nice village! No! There’s no question about it! We’ll have to have a new car before we go. My bettter-half’s seen sense! We’ll need to buy it today! Once we’ve bought an angel for the top of the tree!

I’m waiting for a phone call from the estate agent. We’ve been phoned by all the other agents wanting to know if we’ve clinched a sale. They’ve got me wondering, now.

‘I’d leave well alone,’ advises my sensible better-half.

I pretend not to hear. I’ve got to find out! They’re phoning me back. So I’m expecting a call. I’m wondering if I’ve got it all wrong again!

Expecting a call surrounded by cards, envelopes and paper. I’m getting there, slowly. Slowly because I’m constantly peeking my book. I just can’t help it! ‘Ne obliviscaris’ has just been published! This excellent team have done it again! Oh dear! And again because of me! There’s only one story to tell. So I’ll tell it! ‘Well done arima!’ Because I got it all wrong again!

I’m looking out of the window. My better-half’s on the way in. I’m leaving my book for the cards.

Just as expected!

‘Good grief! haven’t you finished them yet? They’ll never get there! My better-half declares.

I pretend I haven’t heard.

‘How’s it going with the car?’ I’m asking. I’m asking but I don’t want to know!

‘Oh, it’s no good. I’m going to have to look around. We’ll go out later.’

I’m trying not to look pleased! My prediction confirmed! I’m bubbling with excitement! My book’s been published and a silver Mercedes!

‘That’s fine, whenever it suits you. Anyway I need an angel for the top of the tree.’ I’m trying to sound nonchalant.

‘Right! We’ll look this afternoon, straight after lunch,’ he decides.

I’ve just supressed a froth of excitement. I’m surrounded by cards and I’m browsing the papers. The car sales sections of both local papers. I’ve spotted three. All three, silver Mercedes!

I’m back to the cards. I’m thinking of Christmas and a silver Mercedes! Then there’s my book. The party! To launch it or not? I’m trying to decide. My mind’s on that. I’m making mistakes. Getting it wrong! I’m doubling up. I’m wasting cards. I’m using wrong envelopes. I’m throwing away. I’m misreading postcodes. I’m ditching too much. I’m stopping! I’m getting it all wrong again!

Party invites! Now they’re better suiting my mood. I’m bringing them up. Revising the text. Clicking four to the page. It’s printing off one! I’m cancelling it all and starting again. At last! Four to the page. Four to the page and it’s missing the writing. Just white against blue and pictures of houses. Four! But no invites! I’m back to the beginning, typing it all in again. I’m printing them off. It’s working! Oh no it’s not! Print one , miss one! I’m cancelling the printing. I’m finding my better-half. We both come upstairs. It’s shooting them out! All on its own. It’s churning away. Inky black smudges. Smudges of tram lines sitting right across houses! Black, white and blue!

I’ve gone back to the cards whilst my better-half’s fixing it. I’m thinking of Christmas. I’m thinking of phone calls. I’m thinking of buyers. It’s happened before! Oh yes! It’s been exactly like this before! A different house. A family afternoon buffet. We’re relaxing, talking. Talking about where we are at with selling the house.

‘Actually we’re waiting for a call,’ I’m saying.

We’re chatting away. I’m looking across. The buffet’s almost depleted. There are plates and cutlery dotted around. Rellies are walking about. In and out. The place looks a mess. We’re drinking the wine, laughing and chatting. The phone’s ringing.

My better-half disappears into the hall. He’s answering it.

‘That’s OK. In half an hour then.’

I just about catch it through the laughter and chatter.

‘Those very keen viewers. They want to see it again. In half an hour!’ He declares.

‘Oh no! You didn’t say “Yes”?’ I reply. I just can’t believe it!

I’m looking around. We’ve a house full of people! The place is a shambles! I’m begging our guests to take to the green house! With their wine of course! They’re all looking irritated. No! I just can’t believe it! I’m rushing around and gathering plates. I’m starting to flap. The phone rings again.

‘They’ve changed their minds!’ My better-half’s telling me.

I sink in despair! I’m back in the lounge delivering the word. Delivering the word to very straight faces. Then lo and behold! I’m spotting very creative relly-in-law crawling out from behind the sofa with his mobile phone in his hand! He’s laughing! They’re all laughing! I’ve got it all wrong again!

Just like last Christmas. Only this time it’s dinner. Christmas dinner. Dinner for ten and four rosy apples. I’m looking down the table towards very well to do relly-in-law. His face is serious. He’s looking so disappointed. He’s looking up and down. He’s looking sideways and across. Finally he spills it out!

‘Where’s the turnip? I always have turnip with my Christmas dinner!’

I nearly die. I’m in a panic! In a spin! No turnip! How could I have not thought of that? I’m apologising profusely but he’s not conceding. Oh no! I’ve ruined his Christmas! I’ve got it all wrong again!

Now back to today. I need a new dress! A dress for the party. Well I got one with ties and I got one without, so now I’m looking for different. I’m scrolling away! I’ve found something perfect! Just seconds to go! All flouncy and bouncy with three-quarter sleeves. I’ve got to be quick! Just seconds to go! I bid and I win! Oh I’m so pleased! I’m bringing it up. Brand New With Tags! Just what I wanted! I’m looking at pictures. I’m zooming them in. The sleeves have just vanished! It’s speaking of streamers! Streamers from shoulders! They’re looking like wings, nothing like sleeves. I need an angel with wings for the top of the tree. No angel me! That’s definitely not me! No! Sometimes I remind me of Harriet! It’s winging its way and I really don’t want it. Oh no! I’ve got it all wrong again!

Just like the toy for the dog. Well I can’t leave it out! We’ve become friends! Just a big spiky ball with a jingling bell. A must for this huge brown dog! I’m opening the pack. Not sure what I’ve bought. I just can’t believe it! It’s that big spiky ball! It’s the size of a marble! Oh no! I’ve got it all wrong again!

Back to the printer. My better-half’s fixed it. He’s rolling them off. He’s over my shoulder clicking the shop. I’m scrolling the basket. I’ve ordered the turnip. I can’t see the turkey. Unavailable! It’s reading unavailable! I’m getting told off! I’ve sent him away. Surely I haven’t got it all wrong again!

I’ve been writing away. Whizzing through cards. I’ve inserted the invites. I’m now left with a few. Just a few waiting for well-deserved tips. It’s bringing back memories! Oh dear!

I was not far away from The Big 40! So, I’ve every excuse! It’s Christmas Eve and I’m thinking of tips. I’m paying the milk man. I hand him a tenner and I’m paying him £4.99. I’m telling him to keep the change. I’m closing the door. Looking in my purse. The tenner’s still there! I’ve given him a fiver! I’ve given him the change. All of one penny! I open the door but he’s already gone. I’m in a flap! I can’t make amends. I want to phone him. My better-half’s advising I leave it. Leave it and stop digging! Sometimes I remind me of Harriet!

Now it’s the following year and I’ve hit The Big 40! I’m basking in wisdom! I’m full of resolve. It’s Christmas again! I’m paying the milk man £4.99. I give him a tenner. I’m telling him to keep the change. He’s smiling away. He’s touching his hat. I look in my purse. The twenty pound’s gone. Oh no! I’ve still got the tenner! I’ve done it again! I’m chasing him down to the end of the path.

‘Oh, I’m awfully sorry! You can’t keep it all! Not all of that!’

He’s rummaging his bag, not looking pleased. I’m taking the change, passing back the fiver. He runs to his milk float without looking back. And do you know? I never see him again after that! Oh no! I’ve got it all wrong again!’

Back to today. I’m getting glammed up for this silver Mercedes. It’s time to go out. But to where? We’re well on our way. But I daren’t ask the question! It’s all getting closer. But I daren’t ask the question! We’re driving around. But I daren’t ask the question! Oh no! We’re parking in Halfords. I’m all glammed up and we’re parking in Halfords. He’s got what he wants. Now we are heading straight back!

We’re back in the house just in time for the shop. Just as well as he’s early! No silver Mercedes. No Christmas angel. Just a boring old can plonked on the table. My better-half’s answering the door. The hall’s filling with shopping and I’m rushing upstairs. I’m looking for his card with the tip. The phone’s started ringing. There’s no time to spare. They’re leaving a message whilst I’m searching and searching. I can’t find the card so I’m finding a fiver. I’m rushing downstairs. He’s smiling and nodding as my better-half’s closing the door.

‘My word he looked pleased! It was only a fiver,’ I say.

‘No wonder!’ declares my better-half. ‘I thought you’d forgotten. I’ve just given him ten!’

Oh no! I’ve got it all wrong again!

We’re in the kitchen unloading the shopping. A huge big turnip and a turkey the size of a sparrow’s appeared.

‘It looks like turnip for everyone and not much else!’ says my better-half as he’s lifting that can of gunge from the table. ‘Who eats turnip, anyway?’

‘Well it was the one thing I didn’t do last year! I’m not going there again!’ I’m protesting. He’s laughing.

‘Didn’t you realise he was pulling your leg?’

‘No I didn’t,’ I declare. This charismatic joker’s done it again!

No silver Mercedes just a big huge turnip and I’m all glammed up for a bottle of gunge! Oh no! I’ve got it all wrong again!

I’m back in the hall playing the message. Playing the estate agent’s message. ‘They’re still looking around, I’m afraid.’

There’s a ring on the doorbell. Just big apple and her mummy. It’s a quick call in. Big apple’s eyes are shining! It’s nearly Christmas! She’s looking up at me, beaming. I hug and kiss her. She opens the bag in her hand. She’s giving me something very special. Something she’s just made in school today. She’s giving me a Christmas angel!

She’s given me insight. She’s given me love. In an instant she’s just given me the true gifts of Christmas. The gifts of peace and joy. Now I wish them for you.

I’ve made up my mind. I’ll try very hard. Never to get it all so wrong again!

 

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