There seem to be so many souls departing this Earth at the moment, and others experiencing turbulence and ending in relationships. And with that, is the heartache and readjustment to a life without someone who was there yesterday.
Or are there so many? Perhaps it’s the same amount throughout the year but we notice it more now because it occurs when people join to celebrate being together. For some, it’s a time of the year that can cross a fine line of when now is just too much to cope with.
Of course there are those that have their celebrations at other times of the year, of Ramadan and Eid Al-fitr, Chinese New Year or Bozic, and I'm sure there’s heartache and contemplation then too.
In the recent and immediate vicinity of my life, five people died in a car accident on a highway and a friend’s father passed over after an accident on the other side of the world. Friends are uncovering transgressions in relationships while others are realising that friendships are changing and fading away. So many are dealing with ending and change.
And then there are the departures of others not directly connected to my immediate life sphere that still affect me, of young and innocent souls lost around the world, and of those in mental, physical or survival battles.
There comes a point where I question, why. Why does all this happen? Why is there so much heartache? I don’t find an answer other than, that’s life. Of birth and death, and learning in between.
I think of my three boys, safe and asleep in bed when at this time a week ago, they were preparing for school. I instantly feel grounded and my gratitude for them overwhelms me. I sip some tea. They’ve finished the school year on a marvellous high, all achieving in their own right and so happy at what they have accomplished - in academia, music and sports. I am beyond happy for them, and that they are happy within themselves. I know I am lucky.
They’ve given out cards and gifts to teachers to say Merry Christmas and thanks for the year. My youngest gave the Lollypop Lady a gift in thanks for helping to cross the busy school road, and she gave Christmas ornaments that she'd made herself and toffees to all those (in the hundreds) that crossed her crossing. Now, her flags are rolled away for the summer holidays and will only unfurl in February to begin a new school year.
For us, the next few days are about baking biscuits, decorating our Christmas fruitcake and wrapping presents to sit under the tree. There are suppers, dinners and drinks with friends and a swim in the pool to get through 30+ degree Celsius days (86+ F). There’ll be street Christmas lights to wander through, Nanny’s tree to decorate and maybe Carols by Candlelight on Christmas Eve, or we may stay home and the boys will catch their annual bag of lollies tossed by Father Christmas from the back of a fire truck as he does the rounds of the neighbourhood. Even my teenage boys would be in that!
Then on Christmas day, the boys will wake at a time they’ll synchronise between themselves. Although I’m sure early, it won’t be a repeat of a few years ago when they emulated Bart Simpson to drink several glasses of water before they went to bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to wake super early to relieve their bladder and catch an early glimpse of presents left by Father Christmas!
The tree will dazzle with coloured fairy lights and dangling chocolates. Nibbles will appear in the piece of fruitcake and carrot left out for Father Christmas and his reindeers, stockings will bulge and the dining table will wait with plates, glasses and cutlery laid out as sleeping soldiers and fat bonbons watching on guard, ready for a fried ham and eggs breakfast, croissants and jam.
Very quickly, goodies will strew the lounge room and a mishmash of boxes and paper will scatter and pile over the rug. Toys will play, balls will bounce and things will fly through the air while carols ring out and we chomp on treats from the Christmas tree.
After breakfast, it will be time to prepare our allotted contribution of two kilos (almost four and a half pounds) of beans to share at a sister’s lunch. Of the 35 gathered, some will be tired from attending midnight mass while others will be in full celebratory mode, jovial and joking with the brother whose turn it is to dress as Father Christmas to hand out presents after lunch. Then it’s off to an uncle’s place for some more of Christmas and a whiskey cheer.
The day will end at night, more tired and with full bellies than at any other time of the year, Christmas tree lights subdued, eyes glued to a Christmas movie and eating ham sandwiches. I'll have an extra strong cup of chamomile tea by my side, and the boys, and hubby asleep.
That’s a bobby dazzling Christmas, to souls gone, those in their turbulence, and those present in the now.