Yes indeed, it’s Christmas Eve and all should look good, for tomorrow and the future. The first thing I’d like to do is to wish all readers of this blog a Very Merry Christmas, with fun, friendship, family, peace, god health and good fortune.
In fact, for us, things are more complex. A brother-in-law in hospital with serious health problems, who won’t see Christmas outside the hospital, which is miles from his home. My father-in-law in a care home, at least temporarily, because of numerous falls and lost vision. My own father, whose health has been precarious for a while now and who has also lost his sight, following an operation that was supposed to make it better! And, of course, there’s my own health problems. That’s been going on with a certain emotionality on my part, with memories of the sister I lost a few years ago and who I shared so much time at Christmas, when we were Children.
I’ll admit that two of these have had a considerable impact on me in the last few days. I’ve been very susceptible to the kind of emotionally charged movies that are so often shown at this time of year, which is difficult for me in the sense that I always used to suppress my emotional reactions.
Memories of my sister, Gill, were triggered by a combination of a piece I wrote on Wattpad and the fact that we saw her on her last Christmas, not long before we lost her. That was a rather magical occasion at the time. While we were there, our visit was interrupted by callers. Gill’s eldest daughter and many friends had gathered outside the house, all in Victorian costume, to sing Christmas carols to her. Extremely moving. I won’t pretend that we had a perfect relationship. In fact, Christmas was one of the few times of year when we weren’t at loggerheads. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t love her dearly!
My father’s condition is, obviously, of deep concern to me. His health has been failing slowly, since my mother passed away several years ago. He was a keen fisherman, much respected as such and often skippering a 45 foot charter boat for sea fishing parties. He had to give that up some time ago, which came hard. He is also an avid reader. For many long years, he read favoured books that he obtained from the local library. He wasn’t a keeper of books, just a reader. In recent times, it’s become harder for him to get to the library and finding his preferred books has also become much harder, which has driven him to buy second hand books, and keep them if he enjoys them. Now, he is giving away some of those books, because the print is too small. If I believed that I could persuade him of the benefits, I’d try to get him an eReader with lots of books on it, as he’d be able to read any of them thanks to the ability to adjust font sizes. I can’t recall ever seeing him without some books to hand. The thought that he is losing that is painful. The fact that we are also rather alike, in many ways, tends to make me wonder somewhat about my own future.
We tend to think about what we hope to gain at Christmas. In youth, of course, we have that sense of invulnerability. As the years pass and we lose family and friends, still we cling to the subconscious sense that such things only happen to others. In advanced age, we’re not entirely deserted by a kind of blind optimism. We all know folk who look on frail friends as “poor old things” even though those friends may be years, or even decades, younger than themselves. Perhaps we need to devote at least part of our Christmas thoughts to being grateful for the things we have, or have had, rather than to things we want.