A few years ago, we invited my elderly neighbour for Christmas dinner. By the following year, she had lost some mobility and struggled to make it out of the house and up our step. So we took her dinner round for her. And she loved it.
Every year, whether Christmas dinner is at our house or my mum’s, I walk round with a tray with a full Christmas dinner, complete with gravy, cranberry sauce and a tiny bottle of wine, for her. She looks forward to it and always really enjoys it.
This year, the meals on wheels operation was a whole lot bigger.
My younger son woke up poorly on the 23rd and still was far from right on Christmas morning. Then my eldest woke up with a high temperature on Christmas day and thought he wouldn’t even make it into the lounge to open his presents (he did and it cheered him up). My husband was under the weather too.
It was clear none of them were going to make it round to mum’s for Christmas dinner with my family – both because they weren’t strong enough or because of the risk of infecting other people, particularly my pregnant sister. But I didn’t want them to miss out completely, so I got mum to cook for them.
As the dinner was dished up, we got plates ready for my neighbour as usual, plus my husband and two boys. There were crackers for my boys, a box of chocolates (can you believe we didn’t have any in our house?!) and a couple of beers for my husband (we didn’t have that either, due to all the uncertainty about Christmas).
Time was of the essence, and I had the shoelaces issue even though I had a pair of brand new boots for Christmas, which were slightly easier to do up. So I went out in a pair of my mum’s slippers. My brother-in-law drove and my heavily pregnant sister and I carried the trays. My sister did my family, so that my neighbour wouldn’t be surprised to see a stranger at her door – albeit a heavily pregnant one carrying her Christmas dinner.
By the time I came out of my neighbour’s house, my sister and brother-in-law were back in the car, but I ran in to family to give them a kiss, then back out to my neighbour’s to give her the box of chocolates I’d forgotten to give her for Christmas due to all the kerfuffle.
We drove back to my mum’s house and our own dinner was only slightly cold.
Next year I’m hoping that the meals on wheels will go back to being for one.