It is at last the holidays and we have arrived battered and bruised at the last epistle of the year as I am off to France for the festive season to drink a small ocean’s worth of champagne in Champagne and will not be back until the new year. It is time to consider the year and its usual trials and tribulations, its continuous tricks and treats and be pleased to have made it to the end of another one. As one ages, one becomes more appreciative of this increasingly amazing feat.
I am pleased to end the year, especially the work year in one piece. This has not been true for many years in the UK and I am grateful to be away from the extreme pressure and unpleasantness of some of my former colleagues. But that meanness of spirit, that streak of nastiness resides in many in the work-force, too many in management, who seem to take pleasure in delivering bad news on the eve of the festive season. It’s as if they deliberately set out to Grinch Christmas for people, that it’s okay to leave bitter and sour tastes in people’s mouths and usually pain in the pocket for Christmas. I wonder at that, at the lack of compassion for others, especially in my profession that is meant to care about others! I’ve often wondered how we are expected to care for the kiddies if the management don’t care for us…
This year, as I plan for my children’s visit this weekend and prepare for my Eurostar voyage on Monday I feel as if the year, on balance hasn’t been too bad. It has, as ever, been all over the place, literally as we moved house again and ended up apart with moi in a pleasant flat in London and beloved in the house in France, which is an interesting thing to do for a while. I think it is making the heart fonder. Certainly it’s pushing thoughts of murder and divorce way off the agenda! No, a bit of married separation is a good thing. It helps you see the other in a better light, it helps you get to know yourself again as you stop being opposite sides of the one coin. It makes you remember why you got together in the first place all those years ago on the other side of the world in one of the secret magical places of the world – Gove.
I am, as ever, pleased and proud of my brood, their achievements and on-going evolution into adults who are fine people who make the world a better place. Soon there will be another teacher in the clan, sensibly a primary one and training back home where teaching is not the veil of tears it is in England. Soon there will be a qualified artist, doing strange and wonderful things to compliment or perhaps off-set the robotic engineer who may very well being planning to take over the world, not just turn Tasmania into a theme park. Tomorrow will be a hoot as they gather to celebrate another Christmas.
I am sadly aware of losses, both of my beloved and devoted woof, the much missed Zanzibar, and of others who have passed. It is one of those truths that pet owners know, how hard the loss of your dog or cat, or horse, or any creature that shares your life, is felt. It is like a body blow and while we move on, we mourn and miss him and are thankful he was such a core part of our lives for nine years.
For my friends who have lost loved ones this year this Christmas will be especially hard as the gap that has been sort of closing will yawn widely open, and the wound that has been scabbing open will weep and bleed as the previous years full of their smiles and words and love will hover in the air and attack again and again and it will be hard to smile in the face of the loss and look forward to a happy new year. So my love goes to them and I also remember those close to me who left too soon.
Christmas is a time to be with those we love and remember those we loved and have lost. It is the time to cherish what we have. Loss reminds us what we have and should make us more mindful of the joy and love we have.
So, the year is dying, it is fading away, as it should. We look to the New Year for hope, fresh starts and new chances. It is incumbent upon us to consider our good fortune in reflecting on 2014, to accept the shit-bits – they are a part of being human and do, whether we like it or not, make us strong – but try to avoid them if we can and if we can’t then get through them as best we can and not be too embittered and brutalized by those who would brutalize us. It always sounds trite but it is good to count your blessings, to be aware of the good in our lives and appreciate it.
Do these simple things this holiday:
Love and cherish the ones you’re with.
Honour and remember the ones who have gone.
Make the most of your life because no matter how long it lasts it is but a short time we are here.
Learn from your mistakes but don’t dwell on them.
Look forward to the future and make it as good as you can.
Travel well, my friends, this Yuletide period – embrace life and live it large. (Images courtesy Private Collection)