Belfast Telegraph

Sharon Owens: Why I want to hibernate until this snow goes away

Winter used to be my very, very favourite time of the year. I have always loved seeing Christmas trees sparkling in bay windows after dark, the evocative aroma of mince pies heating gently in the oven and the brave little robins perched on bare trees in my garden; not to mention the warm embrace of winter coats, boots and gloves.

I love wrapping Christmas presents and setting out my various festive decorations and eating more chocolate than is good for me. But now, sadly, my life-long love for winter is beginning to falter.

It was okay when my daughter’s primary school was a 10-minute walk from the family home. I thoroughly enjoyed the stroll over and back twice a day. I’d say hello to the other mums at the school gates and maybe post a letter on the way. But now my daughter’s secondary school is an hour’s round-trip away by car and everything has changed. And I don’t even do the school run. All day long I’m watching the skies for the threat of heavy snow and listening to those scary weather reports advising us all to stay indoors unless our journey is absolutely necessary. Is it absolutely necessary to go to school during bouts of arctic weather, I wonder? I say it definitely is not necessary but my conscientious daughter says it is. And so I have to wave my loved ones off each morning, still in the dark usually, and hope to God they get home again safely that evening.

I’m beginning to feel like a housebound pensioner after almost two weeks cowering in the house, afraid to strike out on foot for the shops in case I fall and break a leg. Nobody wants to spend the Christmas holidays lying on a trolley in Accident and Emergency; or even worse, pictured on the front of a newspaper lying on a trolley in Accident and Emergency.

I can’t meet my friends for coffee, I can’t enjoy the Christmas displays in the shops, I can’t get to the post office to send off what trifles I’ve managed to buy online. The house is freezing cold despite the heating being switched on constantly. I can’t get clean laundry dried and put away. My window frames are turning black with mould. The skin on my hands is cracking, it’s so dry. And I’m weary of tip-toeing out to the recycling bins with those wee green bags full of soggy teabags and slithery vegetable peelings. In short, I’m veering dangerously close to Bah Humbug!

I suppose it’s a sign of getting older when winter brings heart-clutching fears of loved ones having car accidents, of water pipes freezing and dusty attics flooding, and milk and bread supplies running low. I was so looking forward to the Coronation Street 50th Anniversary Special but that’s all doom-and-gloom too, with an apocalyptic tram crash and a possible death or three. There’s a grim case of heroin-addiction on Emmerdale, and wall-to-wall madwomen on EastEnders. And we still have to endure what will inevitably be an overblown final on X Factor. (For what it’s worth, I think One Direction will win it, simply because millions of teenage girls will vote for them.)

All these tiresome reality shows are beginning to merge in my mind: will they be sucking on worms and cockroaches on Strictly Come Dancing, and doing an old-time Waltz on X Factor? A lady in England has phoned 999 because someone ‘stole’ her snowman. Is there to be no escape from the misery of this winter? Not in Poleglass anyway, after disturbing reports of local children attacking gritting staff and taxi-cabs. One of these days, an enraged motorist will start returning snowball-fire to the pride of Poleglass, and let’s see how they like it.

Oh, to be a hedgehog! I’d crawl under some dry straw and not come out again until spring. So you can keep your black ice, your weather warnings and your broken ankles. You can keep your sub-zero temperatures and your wheezing influenza. I hereby, officially, declare myself to be a member of the Ebenezer Scrooge Appreciation Society.

All I need now is to hear of a shortage of Brussels sprouts. What’s that you say? There is predicted to be a shortage of sprouts? What’s the point of Christmas if I can’t have sprouts with crispy bacon pieces and Parmesan shavings? Ah no, I don’t think I can take any more. Winter is horrible. Bah Humbug!

Belfast Telegraph

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