What a start to the New Year. At home, land hidden under sudden lakes or at the very least sodden fields, and sadly many people put out of their houses by flooding from beneath the floorboards or by saturation from the never ending rain. Abroad, a new unleashing of inhumane behaviour as regimes execute revolutionaries, and terrorists use social media to taunt and threaten .
When I was a student, quite a while ago, I remember how it felt to be involved in ‘activism’;sleeping outside the City Hall in Belfast calling for an end to the war in Biafra ; occupying the Senate Rooms in Queen’s University, Belfast in protest against the University’s investments in a South Africa which still used apartheid to curtail human rights; protesting against the formation of a branch of the Monday club on campus. Though there are still plenty of issues around to discuss and debate it all seems to be about matters much closer to home and to our own pockets nowadays…or am I just , as I suspect is the case, turning into a grump ?
During my recent hibernation period- what we call in our house, ‘the dog days’ between Christmas and New Year- a slightly blue fog descended. Energy levels were low, even reading seemed to take longer than usual and was less enjoyable. Simple tasks were subjected to prolonged procrastination so that they turned into avalanches of effort. However, with the arrival of New Year, greeted with a glass of champagne, things started to look up.
New energy, new year, new effort required. It’s about re-evaluating what talents, skills and gifts I have that I can put to better use in the world, and appreciate the many gifts, from Santa and others, that I have been given. It’s about being truly present in my own life, and in those of others who may invite me into theirs. Feeling as they say as they say in the language of emoticons, blessed- and yes, excited about what the year may bring and in what I can achieve.
At last I’m getting that Christmas vibe. Nothing to do with shopping (over and done with, thank God) more to do with taking the time to reconsider what I have done with decorations so far, listening to festive music on Lyric FM (loving an album called ‘Yulefest’ which has been featuring) and reflecting on what Christmas means to me .
After spending quite a while wrapping Christmas presents in the gentle sunlight of the shortest day, I took the wreath down from the front door and inspected it. It was bought years ago in the gift shop attached to the Horse and Jockey pub near Thurles and over time I have added scarlet bows and golden balls. It was looking a little careworn so I added a little more gold and retied a couple of the bows – and what a difference that has made. I also brought out a heart shaped wreath of berries which had never come out of the box – this is now adorning the only really bare wall in the kitchen, so I think I am going for a Scandi theme overall this year. My most precious find was a blue glass angel which had survived last year’s trip home from the Viennese Christmas markets – it now adorns the small metal tree which has been a hanger for my exotic bead collection for the rest of the year.
All of this is by way of a reflection on the fact that today is the shortest day of the year and as I am writing this a half moon has peeped sulkily out of the clouds. I know a full moon is forecast on Christmas Day for the first time in thirty eight years and that next year will be a year of major disclosures and light being shined in dark corners. Or, at least, so I have been told.
It’s cockstep today – the year turns towards the light and days are getting longer again from tomorrow onwards.
The excitement of Christmas is different when you don’t have children, though I am always hoping to be surprised and delighted by what I may find under the tree on Christmas morning. It’s about catching up with old friends, connecting with family,spending time with the people who mean most to you (if you can), and missing the people who used to be there to celebrate it with you. Even now at this time in my own life I have an expectation of magic at Christmas, and love the rituals of preparation. This year as there has almost been a Christmas baby in my own family, (hi there, Cohen Dickson!) born on December 17th, feels particularly special.Happy Christmas and may the coming year bring us peace, health,love and joy in our lives.