I am just returned from London. Ealing, to be precise. It’s on the western side of the city and made famous by numerous things, including Ealing Studios. But also, my reason to care: my daughter, her guy, and their toddler (my granddaughter) live on a small street just past Ealing Center.
Amidst the omicron crises, I threw caution away.
I arrived Christmas morning at London Heathrow, wearing N95 mask and a blazing red Santa cap.
Apparently, few people had the same idea because I enjoyed a very empty plane. I’d hoped for a magical/mystical sighting of reindeer, but at 650mph, I assume we whooshed by them. Customs was an unqualified dream. I was through, suitcase gathered, and scanning the greeters, within minutes. It took a moment until recognition hit. We were all masked and they were also, of course (because same genes) wearing festive caps.
I could go on about my one and only granddaughter, who at 3yo is a splendid combination of both my daughters, her father, a mostly Scots ancestry (Irish, Polish and Viking added), and yes, some of me. She’s named for me: Alice (my middle name) Bergamot (long story) Jackson-Hill. She has dimpled cheeks, and chin. And speaks in long, correct sentences. But we have been living out our relationship over Facebook Portal and as good as technology has become, it totally failed to prepare me for this person. For the adult person/mother that my daughter had become. And the splendiferous aunt that my other daughter had become. Think Auntie Mame, but not flakey. Actually, she’s Auntie Em (without Toto and tornado).
The holiday week passed in dense days, us sequestered as we waited on Covid confirmation clearance. I didn’t mind. There were gingerbread cookies to make. Holiday meals to consume. Flaming pudding and brandy sauce. A delayed Wigilia, our family’s traditional Polish Christmas Eve, moved to New Year’s Eve. All feasts are movable, to my mind. And, except where my consult was wanted, the meals and baking were done by my daughter. My recipes. Which had derived from my mother’s recipes. If ever I wondered if the all-out family Christmases I’d created mattered … I had my answer. Yes. And yes. And yes.
And the four things? Unlike the three wise men (I’m a Catholic runaway), no forced beliefs required.
- Things done with love always matter.
- A child’s smile can break, and make, your heart.
- Gingerbread cookies are mana.
- Children are worth it. All of it.
The magic of misted London days, a beneficent pass on covid, hugs and kisses in real time, and safe return made up for the many months waiting. The many years. Sleepless nights. For babies. For angsty teenagers. For everything.