It was The Husband’s and my first Christmas without resident daughters.
I shopped with Laura for an artificial Christmas tree for the house that had not welcomed her. The tree came complete with baubles. I helped Laura erect the tree, it brought a touch of warmth to a cool house.
The Husband and I threw a party on Christmas Eve, for family, for friends, a tradition.
Laura arrived with Mr Big I Am, later than the rest. Her hair was just so, she wore an expensive mini skirt, with stilettos to match.
After shared good cheer, spirits drank, the daughters vacated. They shared a taxi into town: Laura, Mr Big I Am, her married sister with her husband, all merrily clambered in the hired vehicle. When their destination was reached, unlike the old days, the daughters went separate ways. Mr Big I Am steered Laura to him. He liked crowds to stand out in, people to envy him. Laura helped achieve that.
We visited Laura on Christmas morning to take our gifts to her. She was dressed in uniform ready for her shift at the hospital. She looked hung over. I handed Mr Big I Am a designer jacket with a zip. He smiled, a smile that did not reach his eyes.
Two days later the zip was broken on the designer jacket, the teeth had been pulled apart. He could not wait to tell me that our gift was of no use to him.
I wonder now if Laura went to work that day, of had she stayed home to nurse her hangover, to carry on drinking?
Had she dressed in uniform to fool us?
The Christmas tree echoed her artificial life.