For as long as I can remember, there has been the promise that someone, somewhere in my family would have a pool by Christmas. It was an elusive concept, a familial white whale – each festive season as we baked in the sun through another round of ham, prawns, lamb, chicken, turkey and salmon (we’re carnivores, in case that wasn’t clear) we’d whisper with hopeful, champagne-honeyed voices… “Next year”.
Sure we’d turn on the sprinkler, or go to the beach, or stand by an open freezer door in the kitchen, taking turns to bask in the miniature Winter Wonderland, but it’s not the same.
Nothing is the same as a pool.
I know what you’re thinking: “Painefull, could your problems be more First World?” To which I respond: no, they couldn’t, I checked. A horrible tan-line clashing with my new custom Apple watch would come close, but I don’t tan or own Apple products so… them’s the breaks.
And, because nothing is the same as a pool. Nothing.
Decades of pool-lessness, and still we doggedly held on to hope. With the determination of an Australian trying to understand yacht racing on Boxing Day, with the optimism of a global citizen who assumes Donald Trump is a satirical piece of performance art we don’t yet get – this is how we clung.
This year the mercurial nature of pool builders seemed destined screw us over once more – those dudes never met a deadline they didn’t wave at casually as it passed them by, hands full of half smoked cigarettes, mouths full of lame excuses. Oldest sibling Mrs Ryan was trying her darndest, but the Family Painefull seemed doomed to gathering around an incomplete hole in the ground come December.
And then… A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.
And then… rain on Christmas Day. But I didn’t care, you know why? Starts with ‘P’ and rhymes with ‘Yule’ (as in ‘Yuletide’, not as in I’ve found a new, absurdly dickish way to spell ‘you’ll’).
The rest of the day was simply a regular Painefull Christmas.
Emotions were heightened during a tense stand-off…
|"You can't sit with us!" "Why? Because I'm the Mary, and you're the Rhoda."|
We moved a piano. Just as Jesus intended.
|What's Christmas without someone taking advantage of the gathered work force?|
And I received the single most useful gift of the year…
|Adaptable, useful, goes with everything.|
Never mind that I couldn’t move the next day after an impromptu touch football match (because I am a creaking old person) – no one was moving.