For all sorts of reasons the rest of the family had decided that it had to be at Nan and Granddad’s house and that didn’t please me at all. I had been battered and abused there before and I wasn’t keen to repeat the experience. However Mum’s sister and Dad’s brother managed to persuade me that Granddad had “changed” so it was all agreed. But at the end of November the weekly letter arrived from Nan and Granddad. They are all excited because they had been invited to go away over Christmas with another couple (long-time friends) from the 21st to the 28th December. How very nice for them but not for me! Typically they seemed to have forgotten that I was supposed to be staying with them over the Christmas holiday and that I had got nowhere else to go.
A couple of days later I invited myself around to their house for tea and it soon became clear that they had convinced themselves that I could stay at the university "with all your friends" for the Christmas week. They were so excited at the thought of their holiday that I just didn't dare say that I was going to have to use the money I saved during the term to stay in a cheap B&B for 7 nights. When I was driving back to the university feeling fairly wretched I remember thinking that if Mum and Dad are looking down on me they must be wondering what on earth was going on?
Luckily some sensible friends who were on the same course as me persuaded me to tell Gran and Granddad that I couldn’t stay at the university over Christmas. As my friends pointed out it was them that suggested renting out Mum and Dad's home (mine now) or else I could have gone there. Everybody knew from the start that Easter was going to be an issue because Grand Parents did their annual coach trip holiday then - but it was never suggested that I was going to be Christmas on my own as well.
Eventually, after lots of grumbling on their behalf, Granddad agreed that I could stay in their house while they were away providing I didn’t have any visitors round. How very festive! On the plus side the two of them being away meant that I would avoid the humiliation of the previous year when my Christmas present from them was a bar of fruit and nut chocolate they had rushed out to buy on Christmas Eve.
Rather than having a wail, although I was very tempted, I decided to sort out some “away days” with school or university friends. With luck I thought I might manage to fill my diary except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I vaguely hoped that my Aunt, who helped me look after my money, might find a spare place at her dining room table even though she was supposed to have a houseful turning up already. Otherwise it was going to be a chicken leg and a sprig of holly for me!
I casually mentioned on Facebook that I would be on my own over the holiday season and I had 2 offers for Christmas Day and 3 for Boxing Day! So on Christmas Day I went to one of my friends from school who lived 4 doors down the road from where I used to live and on Boxing Day I went to the home of a mature student who was on the same course as me. Good old Facebook!
Much later I found out that my Aunt had had a stern word with my Grand Parents to remind them that buying me a decent present "might be nice" - not just another bar of chocolate from the corner shop like the previous year.
So as arranged I turned up at my Grandparent’s house at the end of term. Talk about a frosty reception! I knew they usually went out for a meal on a Friday but I hoped that they would either not go as it was my first night with them or that they might invite me to go with them. But no, off they went leaving me behind. I knew just how Cinderella felt!
Both of them are a bit deaf so when they think they are whispering I could still hear them. I soon realised that they didn’t want me living with them even in the holidays - all the mess and noise - and it’s not nice feeling slightly unwanted all the time. But rather than mope around the house that first evening I made a couple of phone calls and by 8:30PM I was in town having a meal with some school friends! I even got back before the curfew at 10:30 that Nan and Granddad had as a "house rule".
I wrote in my diary, “Mum and Dad I’m missing you so much today. Sometimes my life seems such total and utter s**t. But wherever you are I promise that I will keep battling along as best I can!”