I hadn’t realised until I lost M just how many Hallmark Holidays we celebrate in this country. The obvious one is Father’s Day, which is currently taunting my every shopping trip with its Wisden Cricket Almanacs and jars of Mint Humbugs. I’m not even sure when it is, or if Fathers necessarily eat Mint Humbugs (presumably they do, in the same way that Mothers eat Terry’s All Gold). But for me, and every other widow and bereaved child, it’s another reminder of the role that He is not around to fulfil.
The other ‘holidays’ are just as bad. Mother’s Day, for example, reminds me that I’m a Mother without a Father to complete the picture. Grandparent’s Day makes me wistful for the future generations who will only ever know M as a face on a photograph – a long-dead relative with whom they have no connection. Valentine’s Day…well, you get the drift.
Truth be known, we never had much truck with Hallmark Holidays. Even Valentine’s Day was usually marked with a hastily bought card from the offie and possibly a bunch of scraggly flowers (if He was lucky). But now they have taken on new resonance – a Valentine-festooned florist’s window reminds me of the flowers He’ll never (not) send me. Each Almanac seems to jump out at me from the shelf, waggling its dick, insisting I notice it. “I’m for DAD!” it seems to shout. “Remember him?”
Of course, there’s a huge element of self-pity in all this. As I said, I never gave it a second thought before. But just as when you buy a new car, everyone else on the road seems to have the same one, when your child loses her daddy, it highlights the feeling that everyone else’s is intact. Readying themselves to receive a Father’s Day card. And a jar of Mint Humbugs.