Season’s Greetings

It can be very confusing listening to a Scottish person speaking.  We use many words and expressions in their own unique way and often these are not abundantly clear.  For example, we go to the shop or supermarket for our messages.  Does that sound strange?  Well, it is not strange to us at all.  It simply means shopping, particularly our grocery or food shopping.  Another word we use a lot is “piece” and you would often hear talk of a cheese piece, a piece and jam (jeely piece) or be asked “what’s in your pieces today?”  To us, a piece means sandwich,. So we also have piece-boxes which are used for packed lunches.  Not quite like the tiffin pot which holds hot food and meals, the piece box holds sandwiches and maybe an apple!

One deliciously expressive word we use a fair bit is “greet”.  It has nothing to do with the broader English language definition of “to salute or welcome in a friendly and respectful way with speech or writing, as upon meeting or in opening a letter”  Oh no – we use it rather it as a colloquial term for crying or weeping and it also has the sense of complaining or grumbling.  It is not a flattering term.  Greeting is not the word we would use for a dignified, composed weep.   And it is none too sympathetic or generous.  The image conjured up of someone greeting is of a contorted face, scarlet and probably snottery, and a significant noise volume attached to it.  To have a greeting face is not something to aspire to at all, with its associations of crabbitness and grump.  (Crabbit being another wonderful expression in Scottish slang for grumpy or miserable).  For example, this description from the Scots Language Centre quotes the use of “greeting face” which is most definitely not a compliment.

So that is the greeting.  But what is the season?  Well, for me it is the season of memories, milestones, landmark days and anniversaries.  We are also on the threshold of Breast Cancer Awareness Month which in itself creates a considerable stooshie around the globe. (A stooshie being another wonderful Scots word for a commotion, rumpus, or row, or a state of excitement or anxiety; a tizzy).  And there is one serious stooshie on the horizon across the blogosphere and breast cancer world.  Thoughts on that stooshie are for another day, today my thoughts relate to that season as it relates to my own experience.

Today marks the start of this season.  For it was 23 September 2009 when I discovered the lump and life as I knew it took a turn for the very different.  The landmark days come hurtling at me after that, with October 2 marking The Day I Found Out, my Cancerversary.  That was the day I heard those life-changing, burned-onto-my-memory words “this is highly suspicious of cancer”. On October 5 I had my surgery, lost my left breast along with its tumours, a heap of lymph nodes and their nasty cells and gained Twang Arm.  Although I spent most of the day unconscious, it is certainly a day I will never forget!  On 21 October my portacath was implanted in time for the first chemo on 23 October.  Exactly a month after the day I found the lump.

So it is a season for greeting, remembering, reflecting and to a certain extent, re-living those traumatic days of October 2009.  Add to that the annual Big Check with the attendant scans, examinations and appointments and you have a very sensitive season indeed.

So please excuse me if I get a bit prickly this season…

20 thoughts on “Season’s Greetings

  1. Ah, Philippa, I still love it when I ring home and my mother tells me she’s just in from doing the messages. Too, there are days when I tell her I’m a bit “crabbit.” I love the words from across the water :-)
    This time of year used to be my favorite – it’s the time of year when everyone remembers why they love living in Phoenix. Warm days, cool mornings and nights. I’m a bit anxious this year … I found the lump right at the end of breast cancer awareness month last year (good timing) and was diagnosed on 11.11.11 The rest of the season is a blur. Mastectomy & DIEP flap on January 13th, and then back to work in March. As if nothing ever happened.
    Just the other day, someone I hadn’t seen in a while, someone who doesn’t really know me, ( a bit of a gobshite really) loudly proclaimed something along the lines of God not giving me anymore than I can handle and I need to just “pull my big girl pants on.” Suitably gobsmacked, unable to come back quickly enough, I was definitely crabbit, if not downright prickly, afterwards.
    I’ll be thinking of you this season as you brace yourself for the string of appointments and scans and hope that pink does not blot out the true colors of life with cancer.
    y

    • Thank you so much Y, I will be thinking of you as your own “memory season” also approaches. Bleurgh! In the name of the wee man, what a thing to say to you – no wonder you were prickly afterwards!

      On a completely different point – I was taking photos today specifically for you. As soon as I have decent connectivity I will upload them. They are of the little “Nat” houses (for the Nat spirits – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_%28spirit%29) and they reminded me of the little tree houses you had posted a little while back :)

  2. I understand the prickles, and I do love thistles. While they have their barbs, they surely are beautiful. I also appreciate the vocab lesson. I pray your Cancerversary goes by without a hitch. Or at least without too much greeting. :-) xox

  3. Beautiful post as always. It’s a braw morning here in Edinburgh and sending you all my warm thoughts to help support you through this month. I will tweet a song by the wonderful Scottish song writer. She mixes scots phrases and English in her songs and her borders dialect comes through beautifully. I hope it lifts the heart. Xx

    • Thank you so much A – and I LOVE the song! My heart is indeed lifted :) Very warm wishes to you too, and glad to hear Edinburgh is braw this morning and not dreich :) What a difference the sunshine makes :)

  4. I so appreciated your blog today.I am also going through breast cancer treatment for the second time in 5 years.It is hard to stay positive all the time, but you perked me up today. Thank you!!

    • Oh, I am really sorry to hear you are going through treatment again. You are so right – it is just not possible to positive all the time, and not realistic. We are all entitled to shout, laugh, scream and even greet! I’m highly chuffed that this struck a good chord with you.

      Take care and I do hope that your treatment goes smoothly.
      Big hugs
      P

  5. Quite a season indeed, I do think you’d be entirely allowed to get prickly as you wade through this block of memories. It’s a tough time of year (that diagnosis and break-neck-speed consequences time of the year), add to that the breast cancer commotion . . . there’s a stoochie indeed.

    Thanks for the lesson on Scottish slang, and I hope you get through okay.

    Catherine

  6. Loved all the Scottish words! And every time someone talks about their Cancerversary, I think of the poem I wrote. I have shared before on some other blogs (I just can’t be bothered to keep track of all that), but want to share it with you today:

    One Year Ago Today

    I am adjusted–
    I am not reonciled–

    Fellow travelers
    say I will be someday–

    But I notice they never forget
    the date of diagnosis–

    (Excerpted from Fine Black Lines (c) 1993, 2003 Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad)

    And love to all!

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