So, Christmas has been and gone

I always have very mixed feelings about Christmas, for a number of reasons: It all began when I first discovered that there is no way that Jesus was actually born on the 25th of December - to say I was shocked is putting it mildly, it was almost as bad as the day I discovered that there was no Tooth Mouse! To make matters worse, someone then enlightened me as regards the Three Wisemen and I discovered that they were nowhere near the stable on that very important night - they probably only pitched up when Jesus was about 2 years of age. In fact, we don't even know that there were 3 of them, only that there were 3 gifts. Since I discovered these horrible truths I have never felt quite the same about Christmas.

In any event, I decided to embrace the whole notion of Christmas anyway - you know, "goodwill to all men", Christmas mince pies, sweltering in the southern hemisphere in artificial snow bedecked houses etc etc. But somehow I have found that as middle age creeps up on me, it all becomes a bit much... all that shopping, the crowds, tacky Father Christmases (the little red and white guy who, by the way, originated thanks to Coca Cola... another shattering discovery!), cooking this huge meal in the intense heat.... bring on the new year!

On a personal level, Christmas Day is quite a painful one for our family as it was my brother's birthday and since he was killed in 1996, it has become a day to be gotten through, as opposed to a day to be celebrated.

But I have to say that this year Christmas was truly lovely. It started off rather badly on Christmas Eve when I woke up in the morning so dizzy I couldn't think straight! A quick trip to the hospital revealed a sinus related ear problem, but assorted medications soon had me on my feet again, if rather drugged up!

We had my whole family around for a cold Christmas Eve dinner. The girls and I decorated the table beautifully, and went to a lot of trouble with the meal, but did not slave away over a hot stove all afternoon - bonus! Later on in the evening we played the "Christmas present swopping game" which was a lot of fun, the kids lit sparklers, we had Christmas CDs playing in the background. It was all really Christmassy and stress-free.

On Christmas Day we woke up early and the girls unwrapped their gifts - much excitement as for once they had not guessed what they were getting beforehand! We then all went to church together and later on we went out to a hotel for a fantastic lunch. Pure bliss.

Grant's parents arrived on Boxing Day and spent two nights with us. They are always a pleasure to have - not least because my mom-in-law arrives bearing boxes of delicious baked goodies!!

So I think I have laid the Grinch within me to rest this year..... 361 days to Christmas and counting!!!

Life and Death

For the past couple of weeks I have been following the Atomictumour blog – it has been an emotional rollercoaster as “AT” has shared the details of his beloved wife’s illness and subsequent death. BJ, AT’s wife of 10 years and mother to his 2 young sons, became ill with flu-like symptoms at the beginning of November and her condition deteriorated rapidly, she suffered acute renal failure and subsequently fell into a coma, she died on the 17th of November.

AT’s blog has made compelling, if not always comfortable, reading. Part of what makes this blog so special is AT’s sometimes brutal honesty – he doesn’t sugar-coat any of his experiences. You just have to love this guy for his “humanness” and the love for his wife that radiates out of his posts.

AT’s experience has brought it home to me, yet again, that we truly never know what the future holds. A month ago his wife was a healthy, 29 year old woman and today she is dead. A husband is grieving and two little boys are growing up without a mom. It makes me want to hug my family that bit harder, love them that bit more – while I have the chance.