It’s Murphy’s law really. The weather forecast earlier in the week said it would rain Wednesday through to Friday. After dressing too warmly on Wednesday and Thursday, I dressed down on Friday (today) to find it cool and maybe drizzly – the luck of the draw? One bonus today was a beautifully calm harbour, still as a mill pond.
What to do when traditional Christmas breaks down? With my father’s death earlier this year, the usual magnet gathering the family has gone. We need to reinvent ourselves. Last year I joined Dad in his brand-new rest home – (pretty good Christmas dinner by the way!) I’d been telling him I would be there on Dec 25th because he seemed to be forgetting. It was a sign he was feeling better one day when I reminded him I was coming, and he said” So you keep saying!” I wondered if he had really been forgetting, but now was not, or whether he’d remembered all the time, but was too polite to say!
If we are used, as children, to much the same Christmas for about 16-17 years through our infancy and schooling, it’s hard to adjust to another format and we can feel Christmas now doesn’t quite ‘cut it’. Of course, we conveniently forget the sibling rivalry, those Christmasses when it rained and we were all cooped up inside, the panic over whether things would be cooked in time, or too much, the tar melting in the streets even in Gore; the rush to get everyone done and wrapped and delivered. One friend told me on year that with two boys who were keen sportsmen, she had 17 plates to take to different end of year functions within about a 2 week period, so she baked a mammoth batch of brownies and had them ready in the freezer!
We picture the Madonna and child and father serenely gathered around a manger with animals around them in bucolic contentment. If there really was a census and everyone really did have to travel back to their town of origin, Bethlehem, so the legend goes, was bustling and over full. And parents of newborns might wonder at the words of ‘Silent night, all is calm, all is bright!’ Families with newborns don’t often have silent nights!
So maybe the trick is simply to be ‘present’ to whatever your Christmas is this year. If it’s a little lonely, sit with that solitude; if it is busy, be in the busyness; if it is different, live the difference. Enjoy whatever contact you have with other family members or friends, but if no one is around, save that new book for the day, or try a walk or a simple picnic. If your bereavement is new, do something different from the usual pattern and don’t expect it to be the same. Spare a thought for those who have less than you do this Christmas and be generous.
On Sunday we will revel in carols and the choral sounds of the St Andrew’s Singers. A new tune from Vivien will be rehearsed before the Gathering begins so if you can be there a few minutes early that would be great. See you there – and/or remember the lunchtime carol service at 12.15 on Wednesday 19 December – with carols old and new.
Go well into this season, Susan
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