Tomorrow yours truly have to get up at six in the morning so that Mark can drive me to Heathrow, and then I’ll fly to Sweden and meet Dad and his new partner. Oh joy.

Considering that mum is really curious, and rings me specifically to ask about her sometimes, like yesterday evening, I’m wondering if all this is going to become some big drama. What if I like dad’s partner and say so?

Thing is, Dad doesn’t really like stupid people. I don’t think he would hook up with a stupid person. So there’s a high likelihood that she is both smart and sociable. Also, the fact that I’ve been specifically invited to meet her must mean that they’re serious on a whole new level.

And mum asked for the divorce, so she can’t really have any opinion on whether Dad finds someone else, can she? Not that this has ever stopped her. Mum is all about opinions, all the time, and she has no hesitation about voicing them.

So why do I feel like mum asks me for an evaluation, like you’d check the teeth and hoofs of a horse? She can ring the woman and talk to her.

***

I have spent some time remote-decorating a nativity scene in another county this morning.

You see, Mark’s mum is the volunteering type, and she likes to drag her son into whatever she is volunteering for. She did so with the animal shelter here in town, and made it so that Mark goes down there even now, years after Mark’s parents moved from town, for a day or two each fortnight.

She has done so again for the parish of the town she lives in now. And since Mark is going to spend Christmas with his parents, she has roped Mark in to create a nativity scene for that local parish.

So know this, if you visit a dinner in a certain hall in a certain town in Wiltshire, an arch-atheist homosexual half-foreign type will have had advice on the colours and fabrics of the nativity scene that stands in one corner of that hall.

Honestly, sometimes I despair about myself. Instead of striking a pose for truth, justice, science, and reason, I spend the morning trailing Mark in fabric-shops nixing and nodding about the colours and fabric of what Baby Jesus and the wise men will wear at the crib.

***

Both these situations illustrate how far people go to keep the peace, I suppose. With mum, I could tell her to shove it and find out about the woman by ringing her up. With Mark, I could say I don’t want anything to do with churches and parishes and Christians, and in particular I want nothing to do with perpetuating myths and legends about Jesus.

But I don’t, because the cost of arguing is higher than the cost of just nodding along. I suppose, that’s what I’m doing. I doesn’t affect me, and therefore I can do it. On the other hand, maybe I’m perpetuating bad conditions and bad messages by not bothering to argue? Or maybe I’m just afraid of conflict.

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