Thursday, 2 January 2014

Aunt Gertrude's New Year.



New Year’s Eve in our household was a pretty low key affair. A few friends came round and everyone was gathered in the front room chatting, listening to music and enjoying lovely mince pies, fruit cakes and a selection of drinks.

A few minutes before midnight I went to the kitchen to get something and there was Aunt Gertrude, our Australian Aunt who has been staying with us for a (long) time.

“Are you doing first footing, cobber?” she asked.

Let me explain. It is a Scottish tradition that after midnight on New Year’s Eve the first person to enter a house would bring good fortune for the coming year. The "first footer" is often a stranger (neighbour or friend) who would bring with him some gifts like a coin which represents financial stability, some bread for food throughout the year, salt to represent flavour, a piece coal for warmth and a drink, usually whisky, for good cheer.

Sometimes a member of the household, usually a male, would leave the house just before midnight, and then knock at the door and enter after midnight bearing the said gifts.

“No … I’m not doing first footing,” I replied, “It's snowing. It’s too cold and I live here. I’m not a stranger!”

“Of course you are,” she replied “you’re very strange. I’ve never known someone more strange than you! Positively weird, I’d say!”

As I was adamant not to go out in the freezing cold Aunt Gertrude decided to go out instead. She gathered the said gifts in a bag and went out in the front garden.

At about midnight the phone rang which I answered. It was some Australian relatives phoning to wish us a Happy New Year. I got on talking with them and forgot about Aunt Gertrude outside in the cold snow.

At midnight everyone in the front room cheered and started singing Auld Lang Syne and other songs. Someone started playing the bagpipes.

I heard the front door ring but I ignored it and continued my phone conversation, believing that someone else would answer it.

The singing and cheering went on for about half-an-hour when our guests decided to leave.

As the household quietened down a little we all realized that Aunt Gertrude was missing. Where could she possibly be? Gone back to Australia? Hopefully!

I then remembered that the last time I’d seen her was when she went out before midnight to prepare to first-foot the New Year.

“Did you not answer the bell when she rang?” I asked.

“No … why didn’t you? You were here by the phone!”

This was no time for recrimination. It was time to find a missing Aunt Gertrude. Possibly turned into a snowman in the front garden with all this freezing snow which just would not stop.

We went out to look for her. She was nowhere to be seen. Not in the front or back garden or in the street either. And she definitely was not in the house.

What do we do? Phone the police and say we lost an Aunt?

“No officer, not an ant … an aunt … our auntie … She's Australian ... Her name is Gertrude ... no ... we do not have an Australian pet insect called Gertrude ... She's an aunt ... not ant ... She's a female Uncle Gertrude ... Does she have any distinguishing features? ... She has a very pronounced Australian accent which can be quite grating and annoying in her own way. When did she go missing? well ... we haven't seen her since last year ... which was only about an hour ago ... An hour is not enough to declare someone missing? Believe me ... I wish she'd been missing for longer ... she came here to visit some time ago and I've aged a lot since ... wait a minute officer ...”

Just then, the front door bell rang. It was Aunt Gertrude. Apparently she got tired waiting outside in the cold so she went first-footing at our neighbour’s house. They welcomed her in and she’d been enjoying their hospitality for the last hour.

“They have better whisky than you, cobber!” she said as she went up to her room.

9 comments:

  1. Victor! The Lord sure does work in mysterious ways and I only say this because I was wondering when "GOD" Good Old Dad would give me my "Just" spiritual tax reward for having picked on so many people on the internet.

    I better start off by wishing you and Aunt Gertrude a Happy New Year and tell you that "IT" was a very busy and exiting Christwas , "I" mean Christmas season for me this year. As a matter of fact, I took an eleven hour trip in our Canadian winter to bring one of our daughters and her family home for Christmas and also took them back home for the New Year. Long story short, I got to spend time with all of our five daughters during The Christmas season although on Christmas Day, it was very limited for some because, longer story short, I must have picked up a virus on my trip cause on Christmas Day, I couldn't keep any food and/or fluid in me during the entire day. Now where was Aunt Gertrude when I needed her? :)

    God Bless and please keep the prayers coming my way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year for you and your family.

      God bless.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Best wishes for a Splendid New Year to you and your family, Hand-Maid.

      God bless.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for the smiles, Victor! This was a great story! I hope you have a wonderful 2014 :)

    I have been praying for you. God bless you, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. May you and your family have a wonderful and Blessed New Year, Mary.

      Thank you so much for your continued prayers. Been praying for you during your absence from Blogland.

      God bless you all always.

      Delete
  4. Thank you, Victor. I appreciate it :)

    ReplyDelete

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