And just like last year, January doesn’t seem to happen until the middle of the month while most of us wrestle our way out of the muddle of the festivities. For isn’t it true that all of December is lost these days to the performance that is Christmas Day? Isn’t it true that we need a little recovery time thereafter?

My world is upside down now. Ste’s depression consuming our days, and swallowing up our nights. My ability to do anything right apparently lost to his irrational judgement and numbing malaise. New medication. The sorrow and the sorrys.

So I carry on. Picking up the routines that were lost to the festivities and filling the house with love, lavender, and hydrangeas. Changing beds and re-arranging rooms so they do not seem quite so claustrophobic to him. Steadying the ship so there is some respite from his sickness. Believing in him all day long and yet living in a constant whirlwind of anger and apology.

Today then, too much coffee. Dining room chairs wearing damp shirts. The first day of a Hillsborough trial certain to contribute to his undoing. A new bed in Stevie’s room to replace the bunk-beds the boys have long outgrown, now one is so broad and the other so tall. (Where do they come from these men where there was once only little boys?) Half- an hour spent polishing everything I own so the house smells like my Mum’s.

It struck me yesterday that everything I hold dear, that those things I would save in a slow-burning fire belonged to her. That I do not actually own anything precious of my own. I can’t decide why this should be. Whether it is because everything I own was not touched by her hands or whether she was simply better at curating her life than I am and so those things she kept throughout her life are imbued with so much meaning?

Maybe I am simply no good at holding things precious on my own behalf.

The hall is littered with dry leaves and smudgy footprints. The kitchen window a gallery of fingers though I know not why. Which one of us so frequently leans over the kitchen sink to stare upon the paving flags? Next door, the man we barely see sneezes so loudly, we both stop and stare in astonishment. A sneeze that can penetrate the walls of this old crumbly house! And then we laugh, hysterically, together. Still so together, despite it all.

Now, I am wandering around, switching on the mass of fairy lights, unashamedly wrapped higgeldypiggeldy around my cozy little office. Opening the fridge and making a list of what we need, stacking my to- be- read books as a reminder that therewithin may be salvation. Carrying the Christmas presents Finley is still to fully appreciate up to his bedroom after a few weeks so oddly displayed in the conservatory. Tutting, because I like a good tut. Carrying on.

For this is what I know of women. We carry on.