R’s Mum (and Dad, then) usually invited everyone to them on Christmas Eve; we had everyone on Christmas Day, my brother D invited everyone over at some point during the holidays as did R’s sister, husband and daughter, and my Mum and Dad had us on New Year’s Eve. Although we often visited each other during the year it was nice to be all together in this way for special occasions, too. For me especially it was good to be back with Mum and Dad and D and see the tree with all the ornaments on it that we remembered seeing every year for all our Christmases past! It gave us a great feeling of continuity. I just wished that our own child/children could share in all this.
Still, it would soon be the start of a new year, and who knows? Perhaps this spring, or this summer, we would achieve our dream, and perhaps by next Christmas and New Year there would be an addition to the family to share in the experience.
The next day, New Year’s Day, R nipped out to the garage for something or other, I can’t remember what it was now, but as we were some way away from the village shops – which would have been closed anyway, of course, and quite rightly too! – it was handy to be able to walk to the garage across the road and along a bit for a pint of milk or a loaf, whatever it was that we were running short of.
We lived in a row of four cottages out in the country then; we had the end one, next door to us were our neighbour and his wife (we had gone to their wedding reception about 3 months before; it was lovely), then a lady on her own, who moved away just before we did, and we still keep in touch with her and go to visit sometimes, and a family of four; Mum, Dad and two children.
There was a space opposite the cottages big enough for four cars; it used to be a council gritting bay but had at some time in the past been given to (or maybe bought by) the owners of the cottages so that they could each park a car opposite. Any visitors would have to park along the main road squashed up into the hedge. The lady on her own didn’t drive, and we had one car, so that left a spare space. What happened though was that our neighbour had his work van and his car and his wife also had a car. The family on the end also had a work van, his car and her car. That meant that there were 7 vehicles to fit into 4 spaces which never worked, as you can imagine! We were always the last home, so ours was inevitably nearly always parked in the hedge behind one of the others. Though occasionally when people were on holiday or had gone out for the day and we’d come back first we were able to park opposite our house.
This particular day R had come back from the garage and gone to get something out of our boot, and met our neighbour going to his own car. His wife was the one who I’d recently met on the train and blurted out our infertility to, and who had kindly offered to teach me how to inject myself if I needed her to.
R came back indoors to where I was preparing our dinner. “Um….” he said. “I’ve just bumped into N.” “Oh yes?” I said. “How are they?” “Well”, said R, “They’ve got some news….”