In my dream I have come home for Christmas. Home is a fifties style kitchen complete with laminated topped table and green tiles on the floor. My mother sits at the table. She is dressed in the type of skirt and blouse she might have worn when she was aged in her forties. She pours tea from a large pressed metal teapot.
Although this woman pouring tea is my mother she does not have my mother’s accent. This woman has an Australian accent and in this sense she reminds me of my husband’s mother.
He sits beside me at the table and like me he is a peripheral visitor to this household. We have come unexpectedly and although we are made welcome it is clear we are not central. A version of my sister, the one immediately below me in age, sits at the other end of the table alongside her husband and they are each opening presents. They have also handed small parcels over to my mother and her second husband, who now lives with my mother in the dream.
The presents are small tokens, nothing of value, some of it junk, but they ooh and aah over each gift as though it is the one thing they have wanted all their lives. Somehow although we have no gifts to exchange, my husband and I feel comfortable enough about being here to watch the gift-giving scene between these others.
There is an impoverished feel to this kitchen, a familiar feel and I know I do not want to linger long. I sense that my husband would prefer that we leave. I get up to go and can tell that my mother would like to think that I am leaving only because my husband wants to go, not because I want to go. I am content to let my mother think this. Somehow it is less painful. I do not want to hurt her feelings even as I sense that mine have been hurt so many times over that I am now impervious to pain. We say our goodbyes.