My dad just brought home the christmas tree. It will stand outside on our terrace with only the small lights to adorn it. This year it isn't even a big one. Not one that reaches the ceiling like we usually have. And that's a first. In the past I would have protested this and felt it wasn't in line with our family traditions… and as anyone who knows me will know there are few things I guard fiercely.
This year we decided – agreeing, all of three of us – that we wanted something different. Not to change or discard what we have valued and cherished before,… no, I think we've just all felt the need to “get back to basics”. Remember why we are upholding all these traditions instead of just HOW we do it.
I guess with the events of recent years, my brother's suicide in November 2004, my granddad losing the battle to cancer six months after that and my excrutiatingly painful departure from England, we are perhaps kind of needful of each other and the holidays in a way we have not sought so much before.
Christmas has always been about family to us. I have never in my life spent the holidays apart from my family. Not even while living abroad. The thought that I ever would is almost incomprehensible to me. But whereas I probably used to enjoy it purely for the good times and abundance of opportunity to spoil one another and endless events to indulge in together… I think now I am seeking a far simpler aspect.
I want to keep them safe. I want to create a space that holds all the love and support and tenderness I have received from so many when I had nothing to give them in return. I want them to have the kind of world that they have given me to live in.
In the past few weeks I have been blessed with many new friends and acquaintances and each hug, smile and shared thought reminds me of just how lucky I am. I have never been without love. I have never been without family and friends to close rank around me when I've needed it. I have never known a Christmas that didn't have room for diversity and acceptance.
It isn't religion we celebrate, it is love and togetherness. It is awareness of centuries past … almost an entire millenium of history and culture. It is home-made paper hearts I made in kindergarten over 20 years ago. It is baking cookies and making marzipan treats in my grandmother's kitchen with all the women of the family. It is going to the forest to gather leaves, pine cones, berries and moss to make wreaths and decorations. It is sitting on the floor in front of the fire place with the dog curled up next to me, looking at the Christmas tree with its tiny lights, shinning peacefully in the night.
If those things are not sacred I do not know what is. And this year perhaps all the more so. I am finally coming back out of my shell and am able to again not just express but also receive love, care and compassion from others again. And for one very special Person in particular, I know that the most important thing I can give Him for Christmas is allowing and trusting Him to love me without restrictions or conditions. Just as it is His most precious gift to me that He is allowing me to do the same with Him.
To all those who have chosen to share a part of themselves with me, I am grateful, and I wish for you to know that in a way you have all helped me find my way back. You have made a difference.
And to everyone… a very merry and blessed Christmas. May it be to each all that is cherished