So, we’ve waved a not-so-fond farewell to 2020 and embraced 2021 with a flurry of anticipation and snow. The fizzled-out fireworks in the garden have been removed, as have the festive decorations. But to be honest, I’ve not quite recovered from the excitement of it all. My arms are still aching from the sustained hugging of Darling Daughter and Super Son-in-law and my throat is still sore from the excessive amount of talking to non-household members from the comfort of my sofa. Now, however, New Year weariness is kicking in, with the realisation that no magic wand has yet transformed the Covid landscape. Restrictions are still in place, albeit of the Tier 3 not Tier 4 variety, and I feel hungover with anxiety rather than alcohol at the thought of a continuing Groundhog year.
Still at least Grunting Teen is ‘well happy’. He’s succeeded in winning several snowball fights with his father and is delighted by the government’s decision to postpone the start of the school term. The Nearly-Beloved is also pleased. He’s finally managed to get his money’s worth on all that ‘sensible waterproof footwear’ he’s bought his son over the years. He’s now wearing the size 9 gortex shoes that never made it out of the box, whilst I am cosy in the size 6 walking boots that complained their way through one enforced hiking trip then remained silent for ever more. Grunting Teen, in his size 11 fashionable trainers and jeans with more holes than denim, doesn’t seem bothered by his unsuitable attire and claims to feel ‘cool’ rather than cold.
I, on the other hand, can’t shake off the icy feeling that’s got a grip on my heart, as I read about rapidly rising infection rates, slow-moving vaccination programmes and a soon-to-be-overwhelmed NHS.
‘Are you alright, mum?’ The teenager surprises me with his show of concern. But the Nearly Beloved just rolls his eyes.
‘It’s January,’ he explains. ‘Your mother always takes a nose-dive after Christmas.’
And he’s right. The super-virus is not to blame, for once. You see, I always feel melancholic at the start of a new year. But my usual remedy is to meet up with friends for hot chocolate and even hotter chats, warm up in a sauna and steam room, or browse the web for my dream summer holiday. None of these are possible this January.
Grunting Teen interrupts my descent into darkness. ‘You need a New Year’s resolution, mum,’ he tells me.
‘Oh yeah, sonny. What’s yours then?’ asks his father.
‘I’m going to focus on what needs to be done. I’m determined to work hard in every school subject,’ our boy announces. ‘And no, PS4 is not on the core curriculum, dad, before you crack that joke. Again.’ he replies.
I raise an eyebrow in my teen’s direction as he explains.
‘See, I’d usually just leave it up to the last minute and cram for my exams. Which is fine, as we are supposed to be sitting GCSEs. But they told us that last year too. And look how that panned out! No, better to be on the safe side and in the teachers’ good books.’
He smiles at me with a maturity I’ve not noticed before. Perhaps he’s coming out the other side of adolescence? Maybe sensible footwear might not be that far off…
I smile back, determined to take on board the lesson he’s just taught me.
‘What are you doing?’ asks the Nearly-Beloved as I scrabble through the kitchen cupboard.
‘I’m looking for that old thermos,’ I tell him. ‘I’m going to heat up some of that Gluhwein we never got through because Christmas was curtailed, ‘then I’m going to meet up with my friends for some spicy wine and even spicier conversation as we sweat it out on a stomp through the woods. And when I get back, I’m going to research my dream summer holiday… of 2022.’
Yes, my New Year’s resolution is to focus on what needs to be done.