Welcome to our first story serialisation. As the story starts on Christmas Day, we thought this would be the best time to publish the first installment.
It’s 6am and already the kids next door are up and about screaming and yelling. Julie couldn’t really blame them, it is Christmas Day after all, but she wanted to sleep longer. What on earth was she supposed to do from 6am for a whole day?
Was it worth trying to get back to sleep, was it going to quieten down next door anytime soon? As the kids next door clattered down the stairs again, she decided to get up. Obviously, this was the family up and celebrating and she couldn’t expect them to calm down three obviously excited youngsters on today of all days.
Once she got dressed, Julie headed downstairs for the obligatory morning cup of tea. Staring out the kitchen window she wondered what was happening in the rest of the houses in the street. It was a very beautiful street, newly built in a lovely little rural village. She could see the street behind from her kitchen window as she made herself a cup of tea. There were already one or two lights on there and when she went to sit in the lounge she noticed another couple of homes lit up a bit further down her own street. As it was not even 7am that was to be expected.
Julie switched on the tv to break the silence, the newsreader solemnly read the reports of natural disasters and political wrangling. After the weather the tone changed as they reported on Christmas festivities in hospitals and the plight of the homeless. As she sat and drank her tea the cycle began again. Solemnity interspersed with celebration. It was going to be a long day.
Eager to help the time pass, Julie fired up her computer and headed to the Amazon website. What better way to help pass the time than with a book? Her kindle was almost permanently on charge and if she found something decent that would keep her occupied for a few hours at least. Nothing less than 300 pages would do. Nothing too taxing for her brain, this was not really the day for a complicated thriller. Something with a bit of a happy ending would be perfect. Of course that normally meant a romance which was not really her thing but one that gave her a bit of a laugh at the same time could be good.
Ten minutes later and Julie was settled in her armchair, another cup of tea to hand and started to read.
The garage next door suddenly flew open and out poured 3 small children, their parents and of course the dog. It seems new bikes had been the go to present this year and the smallest child had to be taught how to ride a bike.
Julie looked up in annoyance wondering why on earth they thought it was acceptable to be out and making so much noise this early in the morning. Looking at the clock on the wall she realised it was already after 10am. She had been reading for over 2 hours. That was possibly why she was feeling so hungry. Time for breakfast.
Heading to the kitchen, Julie switched on the kettle and headed for the fridge. She knew she had no bread, so toast was out of the question. Maybe there was some bacon or sausage left from her last grocery delivery? Having completely forgotten about the Christmas rush, Julie had not managed to order her grocery delivery in time for Christmas. Her next delivery was due on 3rd January which would be a bit of a trial. It wasn’t that she didn’t have food, it was just that as time went on, some of her choices may have to be a bit unusual.
Of course, she could go to the small supermarket in town but to take the car would mean trying to find a parking space and heaven knows they were a rarity in this town. Walking meant buying very little and she wasn’t sure that she would have the strength to walk all the way back carrying shopping.
With nothing suitable in the fridge, Julie decided that breakfast would just have to be another cup of tea and a couple of digestive biscuits. That would keep her going until it was time to think about lunch. Possibly she could think about going to the local shop tomorrow, she would see how she felt.
Sitting down in the lounge again, Julie could see there were a few more homes lit up since she had previously looked. Next door were having a great time zooming up and down on their new bikes. The smallest boy had stabilisers on his bike and was now desperately chasing his siblings as his parents captured the moment on their phones.
As she watched the children cycle up and down the street, Julie noticed someone else watching from their window across the street. Standing at the window, cradling a mug in their hands, watching the children playing. Irritatingly Julie couldn’t remember the woman’s name, was it Frances or Janice, maybe nothing like that. Just as Julie was about to wave, she saw the woman’s head droop as she turned away. Julie’s heart went out to her, she was obviously on her own as well, and the joy of the children seemed to have made her sad.
As Julie watched the woman walk away from the window she looked at the rest of the street. “How many of us are there?” she wondered. She knew the woman across the street was on her own, and the gentleman 2 doors down definitely was and the other one at number 42. Any further than that and she wasn’t sure.
Time to get dressed for Christmas she decided and headed upstairs, not quite sure why she was getting changed but knowing something was brewing in her mind.
An hour later Julie was sitting at her dining room table with her laptop. It had started as a simple question in her mind. Where was there to go locally on Christmas Day? Everyone knows that Christmas Day is when people open their hearts to help those less fortunate than themselves. The thing was that Julie wasn’t less fortunate, she was in fact very fortunate in that she had a home and a car and enough money to keep herself. What she didn’t have was a life and thinking about others in her street, it seemed like she wasn’t the only one.
As that thought had originally crossed her mind, another swiftly followed it. In this development alone there were around 500 houses. How many of them had only one person staying there? How many of those people were sitting alone on Christmas Day?
Ever the fixer, Julie had intended finding a local event on Christmas Day for those on their own and going across the street to invite the woman to accompany her. It would of course be so much better if she could remember her name.
Sadly, there didn’t seem to be anything locally. The nearest events were over 10 miles away and for those who were homeless or in greater need than Julie.
Never one to be beaten by lack of opportunity, Julie decided to create her own event for later that day. First, she printed out large letters on sheets of A4 paper, then she got to work on creating the invitations.
You are cordially invited to Julies Place this Christmas Day
There will be convivial company and a selection of food to enjoy.
(Please feel free to contribute to the selection as I forgot to order my groceries on time and have a very eclectic selection of what I can find in my freezer)
Wine and soft drinks will also be available, again please feel free to contribute.
I find myself on my own this Christmas Day and would like to cordially invite anyone else in this position to my home at 3pm today.
Please do join me, at 54 Greensleeves Street
Julie printed 50 sheets and went to get her coat.
Should she knock on doors and try to talk to people? Should she just put the sheet through the doors and hope for the best? As it was Christmas Day, Julie decided that discretion was the better part of valour and decided to put the invitations through the letter boxes.
It was quite easy to decide which houses to post the invitations. Anywhere that there were lights on but no sounds of people celebrating.
After an hour of traipsing her nearest streets Julie got back to the house and collapsed in her chair. No sooner had she done this then the doorbell rang. Sighing Julie hauled herself out of the chair and headed to the door.
It was the woman from across the street whom Julie had seen at her window. The woman smiled and held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Janice and I live across the way”. Julie heaved a sigh of relief that the woman had introduced herself, quite pleased that she had gotten the name nearly right. “I just got your invitation, thanks so much for that.”
“Oh, you are more than welcome”, Julie replied “I’m sorry if you don’t need it, I was just posting them out on a speculative basis. Won’t you come in?”
Janice shook her head “No thanks but I will be here at 3pm if that’s ok. I just wanted to come over and say thank you and let you know that I will be here. I thought if you knew at least one person was coming it would stop you worrying so much. If you would like I could come over early and bring my turkey so we could cook it here?”
Julie laughed “That would be a great idea, I can’t believe I forgot to get my food order in on time. Just come over whenever you are ready, I’m sure there will be things to be done as I panic about my impulsive decision to open my house on Christmas Day.”
“I think it is a wonderful idea and I am so glad you were impulsive, it would have been a very quiet day otherwise.” Janice replied as she turned to head off. “I will probably see you about one o’clock then, give us a chance to get things prepared, if that would be helpful?”
“I look forward to it” Julie replied as she turned to shut the door.