It’s that time of year now when life takes on a whole new dimension. Dare I say it, but Christmas is five weeks away. Edinburgh Christmas Markets opened today, just in time for our first minus degree weather. Looks like we’ll be heading for a white Christmas, which, when you are brought up in Australia, is a wonderful treat – a fantasy longed for at the height of an Aussie summer.
There is something about Christmas in Scotland that really is quite magical; the street lights, the landscape, the snow, the cold, the excitement, markets, festive events and good cheer.
For me though it comes with mixed feelings. It is the main time of year for families to get together, and no matter the dynamics throughout the 365 or 6 days a year, everyone gathers together and makes Christmas. This is the same for my family. Each year, we take turns in hosting the clan, and we are still blessed with children young enough to appreciate the cheer and fun of Santa Claus, Christmas stockings and all the excitement that I remember as a child in the early hours of Christmas morning.
My brother and his family have a lovely home in the Adelaide Hills and Christmas will be at their place again this year. With a large entertainment area and inviting swimming pool, their home becomes a thriving, bustling, loud and joyful celebration; though truth be told, I’ve not yet made it back to celebrate with them.
It’s a strange ol’ time for me with mixed feelings then as November draws into December. Used to all the family hoo-ha, preparations, arrangements, negotiations, squabbles, fun, laughter and good cheer, being a solo Quinn in Scotland just doesn’t cut it.
I put a tree up, because that is a must. And I do delight in decorating the tree, putting gifts beneath it and touching and smelling the fragrant pine needles. There is something about a real Christmas tree that reminds me of my birth home of New Zealand. Yes, I think I have come of an age and circumstance where Christmas has become a nostalgic event for me.
This will be another year of ‘what-to-do’ for Christmas lunch. Of course, dear friends usually reach out and last year, I had such a delightful time with a lovely friend and her family. I have no doubt that a similar invitation will see me welcome again. But perhaps this year, I will host a lunch – what a joy to consider. Yes, I just might. There won’t be the traditions of old, the simple knowing of family, the banter and fun, and I will miss them all. And yes, I can make new ones but part of me does wonder is it all worth it, being so far away?
I’m not writing in a woe-is-me sense. I’m smiling now, envisaging an inundation of Christmas invitations haha No, I’m writing because it is this time, more than any other during the year, when I am reminded that no matter our life distractions, our pursuits, our goals, our visions, our differences or our distances, Christmas really is about connection – and family connection, at least for me.
I know there are plenty of folk who don’t have anyone; who are bereaved, alone, isolated for various reasons. Because of my life choices, I have the luxury of slowing down a bit as we move into the Christmas rush, and to really pay attention to the meaning of Christmas time.
For me, that is family, friends and loved ones. And even in family absence, my heart and spirit reach across waters to them, and no money, no bought gift (other than airfares!), no event or celebration makes up for that distance. But I give such thanks for our technology and every time my IPhone allows me to hear their voices, or Skype their familiar, beautiful and changing faces. And I think too of all the folk for whom this is not possible.
So, tonight, a blessing upon you and your families as we go into the Christmas period; a remembering that when our time comes to leave body and enter the Spirit Realm, it will be our relationships that are the memories and love that we hold to us.
Let us bring that knowing into our Christmas experience. Let us slow down a tad and connect with the whys and the meaning and the beautiful reasons we gift our loved ones, and celebrate together.
Blessed Be for this time of year.