It's the only period of the year when it feels as if everyone is on holiday. The amount of e-mails and 'phone calls I get in this period is a fraction of what I normally receive as everyone is in the festive mood and unless there's an emergency, very rarely consider calling their local Councillor to worry them about their concerns.
As a result, over recent years in particular, I've taken the opportunity of having a quiet few days during this period to catch up with old friends.
Ysgol Dyffryn Taf - the 2004 Reunion
I left my seconday scchool in the summer of 2000. A whole decade ago? Time really does fly.
On going to Aberystwyth University, I quickly lost contact with most of my friends from school. So in 2004, having graduated and become a County Councillor in Cardigan, I decided it was time to try and catch up with some old faces. It worked out well as word spread and we had a night out in Tenby between Xmas in New Year with about 9 or 10 of us present. Nothing too formal, just a few pints and a catch up with old friends.
The 2009 Reunion
But, despite our saying that we wouldn't lose contact again, it has so happened. But last year at this same time, I made an effort to catch up with some more old faces. This time I caught up with my old childhood neighbour Justin Williams. We were always playing in each other's houses but I hadn't see him since my fathe died in 2003 as he had moved out to live in Canada. He's now engaged and doing well but on coming hme to visit his mum Trisha, it gave me a chance to catch up with him, his mother, her partner Nigel and her sister- Justin's auntie. It was great to see them all again and to see that they were still the nice family that they've always been.
I also caught up with the Evans family from Whitland who my family have know since my childhood. Llewellyn was in my class in primary school and though we'd caught up in the 2004 get together, I don't think I'd seen him since. In the meantime, younger brother Ryan happened to be a good friend of Alyson, who I got together with on Boxing Day last year. So with all of these newly re-made connections, a few of us caught up for a meal a the Black Lion in St Clears. It was a Whitland YFC Xmas dinner to be precise but a chance for me to catch up with Llew, Ryan and sister Sioned and their mother Vera who hadn't changed a bit!
I've told my mum that in bot cases - with Trisha and with Vera, she should find the time to cach up with them also. I hope she does.
Ysgol Dyffryn Taf - the 2010 Reunion
So that brings us to this week. With this growing want to catch up with old friends, I was pleased to get a Facebook message (is there any other way nowadays?!) from another old school friend Alex Forder. Now, we've actaully met more recently than the 2004 get together when we caught up for a drink in Cardiff but now that he lives in Bilbao, Spain, the chances of a catch-up are rare. So he asked whether I wanted to have a curry one night during his Xmas break back home.
Well, why not indeed? So we then decided that we may as well try and see if we could get a group of us together from Dyffryn Taf. Admittedly, the idea was only discussed some 3 weeks ago so we had little time to plan, but it was worth a try.
Despite the short notice and the awful heavy rain last night, we still got 4 of us together for a (bloody fine) Indian and catch-up in Tenby. As I mentioned, I've seen Alex a few times in recent years - most recently in August 2008. As ever he was on good form and holds the rare distinction of being able to out-talk me! Dafydd Williams from Llanboidy also came down and apart from a fleeting 'hello' on a bus one time in the semi-distant past, I haven't seen him since we left school over 10 years ago. We'd been in the same class for 7 years in Dyffryn Taf so it was good to catch-up. Finally, completing the four-some, we had Gavin Harris who, like Alex, had come to Dyffryn Taf mid-way through the 7 years that I and Dafydd were there. Both Gavin and Alex were in our 6th form class so we knew each other well but the only time I'd met him since 2000 was in that 2004 get together. He joined the Marines as he always said he would, back in 2001, so is about to celebrate 10 years in the forces. He's just come back from a 3rd spell in Afghanistan having also been in Iraq and Sierra Leone. Much respect to the man and it was great to see him again.
The best thing about it is that it was as if none of us had changed. Alex, Gavin and Dafydd all spoke the same and looked the same as they did all those years ago, albeit maybe with a few years of age added on top! But it was good to catch up with good friends of old.
We drift apart so easily as people. A forgotten communication here, a reluctance to say hello there and suddenly, years go by without us keeping in touch with those who at one timein our lives, were those good friends. I hope I've managed to make some of those re-connections over the past few years and I hope to continue to do so in the future.