Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Past--age 12

While still in the house where we had the 18" tree with the green paper angel, I had a wonderful surprise one evening when I was, as usual, alone.  The doorbell rang, and to my amazement, there stood my dad!!
He had lost track of us with all our moves, and had asked the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to track us down. Then, he just took the train across Canada and a ship across the Atlantic and a train to London and a taxi to our house.  Unfortunately, we had only one bedroom with only one double bed, no sofa and no big chair and no sleeping bags.  So I don't know who slept where that night, but my dad did not stay with us.  However, he was back in my life and that was all that mattered to me.  It wasn't Christmas then, but he was my best gift ever.
He moved in with one of his brothers in Birmingham, and often came to London to see us.  Meanwhile, Mum and I moved yet again--this time to two bedrooms above a grocery shop where we shared the back-room/kitchen with the grocer--still in the borough of Battersea.  There was a sort of chaise longue in the kitchen, and when my dad came to London, that's where he slept.
Christmas arrived.  There was no place in the shared kitchen or either of the bedrooms for a tree, so that was once again dispensed with.  However, my uncle invited us to his place (where we had stayed on our arrival in England) to have Christmas dinner.  I don't remember if it was Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but we had a good time and stayed far too late.  When my uncle realized the problems we were going to have, he shooed us out in time to catch the last bus to The Angel Islington, where we would catch another bus to Battersea.  Unfortunately, when we got there, the queue was very long and we could not be squeezed onto the last bus going anywhere from that location.  We walked around, looking for a taxi or a bus or anything that would get us home.  No luck.  Even the tube stations were barred shut.  We ended up at a train station.  It might have been Victoria, but I don't know.  My dad saw to it that Mum and I could find a place to sit in the Ladies' Lavatory--there were benches in there, in a room adjacent to the row of toilets.  Mum lay down on a bench and slept.  I did a jigsaw puzzle on another bench to pass the time.  Early in the morning my dad pounded on the door for us to come.  There was a train due that would take us to Clapham Junction and we could walk home from there (maybe a mile or two).  I remember that walk: passing the horse-drawn milk delivery carts on their rounds.  That was my second Merry Christmas in Merry England.

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