In the UK the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day, which is today. Nobody knows really why it is called that, but we think it has something to do with the giving of alms to poor and destitute people in the past. Nowadays it is all about shopping – as if there wasn’t enough of that in the last couple of weeks. It is also the feast day of St Stephen. You know him. He of Good King Wenceslas fame.
There are numerous Boxing Day traditions here – the aristocracy go hunting, the loonies go swimming in the North Sea amongst them.
In our house, Boxing Day is traditionally a day of rest. We make no plans to do anything or go anywhere, just to sit and relax and enjoy some time together after the hustle and bustle of Advent and Christmas. Today has been no exception. We had brunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on toasted bagels at about 11 am and I have had a great time crocheting a blanket for Emma whilst watching “Stuart Little 2” and “Meet Me In St Louis” this afternoon. Heaven!
I made a soup for tea tonight using the leftover veg from yesterday and some of the leftover turkey meat. It was scrummy and just what the doctor ordered. Not that we overindulged yesterday – far from it! We had a simple Christmas dinner yesterday – turkey, pork, roast potatoes, new potatoes, carrots, sprouts and parsnips with trifle to follow – and between six of us we drank about 3 bottles of wine all day and evening. To be honest things have been so busy in the last three weeks or so that none of us had the energy for anything more adventurous and by 5 o’clock we were all totally wiped out. It was a case of clock watching until about 9pm when it was deemed “appropriate” for us to one by one slip off to bed. The last one up turned the lights out at about 10.30pm last night. Not so much feasting and festivities as crashing over the finishing line and craving sleep by the end of the day.
If you remember I gave you a little insight into what I’d been doing over the course of a couple of days when I wrote my last Daybook Entry. I would do the same here but to be honest there has been so much going on that it is all a blur and I can only remember the key points, such as playing as a family for our Carol Service on Sunday in church (immensely proud of my family for pulling that one off),doing Messy Church on Christmas Eve afternoon (great fun, and very messy!!!), playing for our neighbours in the street yesterday morning (thanks to everyone who gave us a wave and cheered us on), playing for our service yesterday in church (by now our little family quartet were getting rather good at playing together and we didn’t want to stop!) and visiting the in laws yesterday afternoon.
You might have gathered by now where the “rambling” part of this post’s title comes from… I do have a lot of stuff swishing round my mind at the moment and I thought if I could share it out there in blogland it might help me put some of it to rest.
In amongst all the “busyness” of the Christmas lead-up, there have been some really poignant and significant events that have happened either to me, or to someone I love. They have made me reflect on things and I wanted to share them with you in this ramble. Forgive me…
My cousin celebrated the 18th birthday of her eldest son just before Christmas. While in normal circumstances that is a big enough milestone, when you consider that when he was born he was a whole two months premature and for weeks and weeks it was touch and go whether he would survive or not, his 18th birthday means all that much more to us.
One of my friends lost his father on 5th December and his funeral was held on Friday 13th December. It would have been his 80th birthday that day, but instead it was his funeral. My friend now has no immediate family left and to all intents and purposes is all alone in this world. He does have close friends, but it isn’t the same as having family is it? He has never married, he lost his brother around four years ago and both his parents have now passed. I love my friend and wish there was something more I could for him and with him, but what can I do? I feel his pain and want to share it with him, but his very alone-ness makes it impossible to get closer to him.
I lost two of my church family in December – Neville and Brian. Both of them were elderly men and they had entirely different backgrounds and lifestyles but I loved them both and I will miss them.
One of my friends from church has been told that breast cancer has returned for a second time. She will be having a mastectomy in the next few days and my heart aches for her. She is putting a brave face on things but you can see that the light is dimming behind her eyes at the minute.
A lady I got to know from New Zealand died the week before Christmas too. Her story is remarkable and that she had survived as long as she did was a testament to her strength and faith. She visited her family here earlier this year and we knew then that her illness was terminal and that we would never see her again, but she managed a return visit at the end of the summer holidays and into September. The journey from NZ to Manchester was a gruelling one and she had to spend a few precious days away from her family and in hospital to recover. She travelled home with her husband in mid-September where her condition worsened, and she gave up her grip on life here on Earth on 16th December. Her gentleness of spirit and strength of faith in God shone like a beacon from her during both her visits and she touched the hearts of everyone she met.
My cousin, who lost her Dad two years ago, posted on Facebook on Christmas Eve how much she was missing him and how they will still enjoy Christmas even though it wasn’t right that he was not there to share it with them. She posted a photo of him too; I cried.
All of these things (and more) have gone into the reflective mood I have found myself in over the last couple of days. I haven’t come to any sort of conclusion, but the fact that Christmas is as much about loss as anything else has become more obvious to me this year more than at any time in the past.
Christmas itself is so emotive – the fact that it comes right in the darkest part of the year; the fact that there are so many images of the “perfect” family enjoying the “perfect” time together; the fact that everyone else seems to manage to buy their kids the best of everything with gadgets and technology galore while you can’t even come close to your kids’ Christmas list; the emphasis on FAMILY and TOGETHERNESS; the pain of putting a brave face on things while you are dying inside; the guilt associated not fully grasping, or not wanting to know about the religious aspect of the season… Why do we insist on punishing ourselves when all we have to do is look outside of our own circle to see it just how things are elsewhere?
Here in the UK we have had massive storms that have left thousands of people without power, without homes even, and unable to celebrate Christmas at all. There are huge floods everywhere and Christmas has been ruined for hundreds of families right through the country. For those of us who haven’t been affected by the storms so far we are still left with the worry of not being able to meet the bills for heating our homes adequately. And we haven’t even got to the worst of winter yet.
Life goes on doesn’t it? Even in the midst of heartache, grief, bereavement, worry, hardship and threat, life goes on. The best we can do is a) to live each day to its full potential, and b) to make sure that those we love are given the encouragement to go on living their days to their full potential too.
Forgive me this Boxing Day ramble – there have been a lot of words washing round my head and I needed to share them!
We are going to be going out tomorrow for a proper ramble. I hope to have some pictures to share with you tomorrow instead of all these words.
I trust your Christmas has been everything you wanted it to be. Blessings to you all.