Anna sat down to write on the multi coloured Christmas card she had spent over an hour selecting in the David Jones Xmas section. Baby animals jumping around the well known portly man in his red suit filled the front of the card. Anna was sure her new grandson would love it. Her first grandchild.
‘Dear Jacob’, Anna started, imagining her daughter reading out the words to the young baby who’s age was still being counted in weeks and days.
Anna wanted the card to be special. It was going to be Jacob’s first Christmas. She would much prefer to be there, to hold him tight and whisper ‘Merry Christmas my little one’ into his ear, but it was not to be this time.
She stared at the blank inside of the card. The words did not flow. Instead, wet giant silent tears formed and trickled down her cheek. Images of Jacob from the many photos and videos her daughter Lilly had sent rolled in front of her eyes. This tiny human that she had yet to meet in person had already taken up a massive chunk of her heart. He was not her own baby, but the feelings she felt for him seemed as strong as her feelings were for Lilly. It had taken Anna by surprise, and memories of holding her own babies had come flooding back. She longed to hold this baby, but it was too dangerous to travel just yet with the pandemic still raging.
She wiped her cheek and pushed the chair back, making it almost fall over. The heat in her chest spread like wildfire across her body, causing knots in her throat and redness in her cheeks.
Damn flushes. Not now!!
Anna couldn’t control the tears or the hot flush, and raced to the bathroom, stripped down naked into the shower of welcoming cool water. While the tears flowed down her cheeks the tightness in her chest and throat eased. The roughness of the towel drying her body felt comforting.
She walked back into the kitchen and made herself a cool drink from the fresh mint leaves and soda, then pulled out the old family photo album.
Pictures of happy faces over the years, sleeping babies, birthday parties and picnics. And many Christmas’s; silver and gold adorned trees, tables laded with turkey and glazed ham, steaming pudding full of rich marinated fruit and warm creamy custard.
Christmas in so many locations, most years in their old red brick home. But also the occasional Christmas spent abroad in the cold northern winter with snow and darkness outside, and smells of vanilla cookies, roast pork and pine needles inside. Other times with friends up north in the blistering heat, everyone in swimmers in the backyard under the tarp thrown over the Hills-hoist, and the kids playing with their water guns soaking wet and laughing.
So many memories in the photo album, but also in Anna’s heart and she knew in her children’s heart. No Christmas had ever been a sad event for the little ones, even if the adults had had their own problems to deal with. For the kids, every Christmas had always meant good times and lots of presents.
Jacob would have many more Christmas days, and Anna knew she would celebrate with him one day. His parents would be with him this year. It would be their new little family Christmas. Their time to start their very own mesh of old and new family traditions filling albums of happy memories.
Anna sat down to write.
You don’t know me yet, but you will soon. I am your Grandma from Sydney, where our Christmas is in summer, and the sun shines almost every day. We will meet one day, and I will read Australian books to you, and show you pictures from your mum’s homeland. Maybe one day you can visit me, and I can take you to places I am sure you will love; giant beaches and bays, shady bush lands with enormous trees reaching right up to the clouds, and so many wonderful animals that will make you squeal with delight.
Till we meet my love, I welcome you to life, and hope you have a wonderful blessed Christmas with your very own mum and dad.
Today’s positive…Christmas day can be the most stressful day of the year for some. Families get together out of obligation rather than choice; everything must be perfect; expectations run high and feelings of loneliness can sour.
But this quote says it so perfectly. I love it.
It’s all about bringing back gratitude and not expecting so much. Seeing joy in the simple things. Enjoying wherever you are and whatever you do today. .
I lived in the darkness of the northern winters for 20 years and yet returning to it feels both strange and comforting.
Having lived in Australia with its sunny skies for a lifetime now it blows my mind to see the sun not rise till 9 o’clock in the morning and then only grace us with its presence till mid-afternoon. By 4pm it is pitch black again and another 17 hours of darkness starts again.
I spent all of my childhood in Denmark and the long dark winter evenings certainly encourages a lot more reading and opportunities to “hygge” with family and friends. Hygge is this unique Danish word for spending cozy time with loved ones. It often involves good food, drinks, candles and warm heating. Basically, people connecting and enjoying each others company. No direct translation is available as its such a Scandinavian term. It’s part of our unique culture and something I miss.
But I must also admit after 6-8 months of cold grey days and long dark nights it can become really depressing. The term winter blues is absolutely real. I remember longing for tropical sunny places during those long winters. When spring and summer finally arrive everyone feels a sense of euphoria. Life truly feels like it starts again when the first signs of spring flowers emerge out of the cold soil. Tiny white winter flowers were the first I remember being the initial sign even if they were often poking out of the snow on the ground. A strong feeling of renewed energy and life comes over everyone both humanss and animals. Again something you only truly experience in a climate of cold winter darkness.
In Australia where I live now, the seasons are too similar to really produce that sense of new life and energy. During our winters we may complain about the cold reaching “freezing” around 15C and the days getting shorter because we return from work in the dark. But its nothing compared to the cold north. Everything is relative to our normal environment and we all adjust accordingly.
Still, being back here for Christmas for the first time in over 20 years, in spite of the grey skies and the dark nights, it also feels strangely nurturing and comforting living in this darkness. It was such a big part of me for a long time and brings a lot of memories back on both a conscience and sub-conscience level. This return to the dark nights is reaching something deep in my core, a connection to my childhood and my parents who have long passed. A connection to what was part of me for maybe a relatively short time but a very important part of my life, a part that shaped the person I am today. I feel both a longing to be part of it again and a sense of loathing.
Being here in December is probably the best time if you have to experience this darkness. The Christmas lights are everywhere and so mesmerizinglyy beautiful. The Danes seem to have both an overwhelming and understated way of displaying their Christmas joy. Unlike other countries, the lights are not flashing and multicoloured,, but just a plain light lighting up the trees and gardens. Walking the streets is a joy with lights and candles in every window. It looks classy and beautiful rather than crass and flashy.
I guess because of the extreme differences in Christmas celebrations in my old country and in Australia I am truly looking forward to spending it with my Danish family in this cold dark country. This to me is Christmas. Even after living longer in Australia than I ever did in Denmark it still does not truly feel like Christmas when it’s sunny and hot outside. The novelty of Christmas on the beach and BBQ’s in the backyards has certainly been enjoyed many times, but I think as long as I live itwill nott feel like real Christmas to me unless its dark and cold outside.
Christmas is steeped in tradition and has so much magic for children. Maybe we all revert back to longing for how we spent Christmas as children. Or is the white Christmas in the dark something stronger.
I wonder ………..Would love your comments on this.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not I wish you all a wonderful and safe time filled with love and joy. May the writing come easy.
There is something really special about sisters and the bond they have. I can’t speak for brothers, but I hope for their sake its similar in nature.
I can speak for sisters as I have experienced and seen many examples. Not only am I a sister, I also have 2 daughters and several girlfriends where I notice it.
A friend of mine is currently posting photos of her sister just having arrived from the UK and you can see their happiness. It made me think about my sister and I.
My sister is younger than me by about 4.5 years. We spent our childhood together in Denmark, but have lived on opposite sides of the world to each other since my early twenties when I decided to move to Australia to follow love in the form of a handsome young Australian.
To me it was exciting and an adventure at 21 to travel that far. I never realised what it meant family wise. Even though I have gained so much in my life and never regretted my move at all, I also understand what I have paid for this wonderful life ‘down under”
My sister and I have always stayed close, but you miss out on the small and big events in life when you live that far apart. It just cannot be helped no matter how much you try to stay in touch. We all get busy with our lives, especially when we start our own families.
Still, the love between us has always remained and when we do catch up we chat like we just saw each other the day before. The old comforting familiarity and the memories keep us connected. I always feel loved and content after a visit with my sister.
We do drive each other crazy sometimes. We are not alike in many ways, but our love for each other just accepts that and makes the other person more endearing.
For many years we shared a bedroom in our family house, and my sister loved nothing better than hearing me tell her stories. I had a vivid imagination even then, and one that often ended up scaring the wits out of my younger sister. I always remember telling her a particularly scary story about dead people and graveyards. Her eyes would grow wider and my enjoyment at seeing the effect of my story grew at the same rate as her eyes till she couldn’t handle it anymore and went into complete panic mode. She screamed at the top of her voice like she was being murdered. I panicked, more worrying about my mum punishing me, I’m sure, than concern for my sister. Such horror siblings we can be sometimes. I quickly grabbed her and kept saying “It was only a tiny frog, it was only a tiny frog making the noise, not a dead person, just a tiny frog” till my sister finally calmed. We both remember this particular story time, not sure who was the most scared.
My love for my sister had never wavered. She will always be my baby sister. Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother as much as my sister, it’s just our connections is different. My sister and I share so many common areas because we are both females. We connect with motherhood, relationships with men and the understanding of the female hormones, I guess we get each other because we are both females.
I am now counting down the days until this Christmas. I am traveling to Denmark with my two adult daughters to spend time with our Danish family. It is the first Christmas we have all been together, my sister and brother and their families, since 1994. My girls will meet all their cousins again, now all adults as well as a couple of little great cousins. We are all so excited and can’t believe its actually happening.
Here is to sisterhood and good family times. I am super excited.