Starting Monday, I have a four-day project to upgrade my company's backup and recovery application, and then the shopping can begin.
This will be the first year in about fifteen that I will not be on call over the holiday period, and the first in about five years where I'll be able to take the whole holiday off, so I'm actually looking forward to it for a change, if only for the rest.
As I will have mentioned previously, I don't particularly enjoy Christmas. Of course, there's Christmas dinner with family and visits to (and by) friends, but the holiday itself leaves me with a sense that something's missing. I have my own ideas about that, and won't burden the regular reader, but the feeling hasn't diminished over the years, and so I generally just put my head down and make a charge for January.
I also still have several days' leave to take (three-and-a-half, if anyone's counting) plus a flexi-day (bonus time worked), so I'll have time for a bit of Christmas shopping and people-watching. For the last couple of years, I've taken to visiting a pub in Dublin called 'The Old Stand', which has a large window looking out onto a four-way junction in the heart of the centre of town.
Armed with a pen and a (cheekily overpriced) pint, I sit for an hour (or even two) watching people go by, wondering what's going on in their minds, what their stories might be.
In some ways it's like being in an Edward Hopper painting, only on the inside, looking out...
- The CEO of my company went past, carrying a plastic shopping bag and checking a list or similar as he did his shopping;
- A group of four young women, laden with shopping bags and unable to agree on where to go next, who went into Butler's Chocolate Café for a coffee while they decided; and
- A young couple, reluctantly going their separate ways, finding reasons to delay taking their leave of each other. There was a brief exchange, then each produced a cellphone, no doubt to exchange details. It struck me that they hadn't known each other more than a number of hours.But then the time came to part - it was like something out of 'Brief Encounter'.