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Thursday, 19 December 2013

a poignant season and Christmas Past

"Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it" 

the jeweled tree at  Butchart Gardens

This last week has been full of memories, as my mother's birthday and then my brother's came and went. There is a deep sadness and longing for the ghosts of Christmas past.  I still feel and remember the anticipation, the hope, the magic, the baby Jesus, and our family

our little drummer boy
I've had this angel sitting on my mantel ever since my father died some years ago. It always reminds me of him as he so loved Christmas. His eyes would light up like a child's when he stood back from decorating the tree while the sounds of a Yuletide Pavarotti played.   Our house was never dull and on Christmas day it was aglow with a spirit of generosity and good cheer, - and arguments too as no one could ever agree on anything including who was going to make the coffee or drive to Mass.  During the day the house filled up with family and visiting friends and the smell of mom's great cooking. I still remember opening cherished picture books under our tree,  my sister opening her box to find the frilly dress of her dreams, my brothers with their trucks and trains, our grandparents sitting smiling on the couch calling out each of our names as they handed out the gifts while dad immediately crumpled all the wrappings up to burn in the fireplace (a little Christmas OCD!!).

One Christmas eve night Toto the dog ripped open all the presents looking for dog treats which she knew were there somewhere but instead found a box of chocolates and we woke up to a mess of Christmas wrapping and vomit  and her hiding behind the couch looking so miserable and ashamed.

Every year Mom made what she called the "wife saver" breakfast, put together the night before with a hodge podge of ingredients similar to Scottish "stovies" or hash but with eggs included in the mixture. So after Mass we ate, and then the treats were laid out and we ate again and ate all day long. It was a raucous time with the mix of Celtic and Latin temperaments and I won't deny that many got into their cups as well.
But something was special there as even after we had grown and moved out we all came home every Christmas for years as though we never left.

In later years I watched my own daughter in squealing delight, pull the wrappings off a Barbie doll house with a battery run elevator!!!  This year I go to her place for Christmas dinner.

How many Christmases are we given?  We never know who will be lost but also who we will gain.  Children grow and have children of their own. We celebrate in different locations now as ordained by our own life's circumstance. We can drift apart and come together as in a dance. 
In the  blink of an eye filled with the sparkle and light of this magical and holy season we enter a new year.  May this angel and the baby Jesus hold in the warm light those who are loved and missed this Christmas, father and mother, grandparents, all-  and our  dear brother who made us beautiful stained glass birds one year and gave Dad (as one fisherman to another) a fish mounted on a plaque that sang "Take me to the River" which gave us all a good laugh.   God bless us everyone

a very old clip from the family movies-Dean was a wee baby and Vicki got her dress.

More Christmas Past
I'll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams-A Tribute

Our house on the hill

With great sadness I heard that
our once lovely old home beside the University lands is no longer standing.  The neighbourhood has grown over the past  years and fell prey to rezoning. It is now upgraded and modernized into an upscale urban community, in other words in just a few short years, almost unrecognizable. One more lesson of the changeability of this life and to seize each moment fully as it is given us,  and  then also to be able to let it go. (the harder of the two)

A melody of yesterday remains playing in our hearts as mom waves a welcome to all through the frosty kitchen window and we with hearts of Noel are walking up the road to step through that front door again!!
"Yes, the news­pa­pers were right: snow was gen­eral all over Ire­land. It was falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, fur­ther west­wards, softly falling into the dark muti­nous Shan­non waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely church­yard where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and head­stones, on the spears of the lit­tle gate, on the bar­ren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the uni­verse and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the liv­ing and the dead."-  James Joyce

Dean lighting candles before the Grace- ten or more people would eventually sit down to dinner

Blessings on the dear old house and on us all and to those
                   still cherished and remembered in the book of life, we will
meet again

and now to embrace it all, joy and sadness together and go and make a proper cup of tea!! (Pema Chodron)


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