At this time of year it seems natural to be in a reflective and contemplative frame of mind. To count one's blessings and give thanks for this Christmas and for all the Christmases we have once enjoyed.
I am reflecting today, this Christmas Eve, on a particular Christmas past. Not a childhood memory of Santa sacks, and Christmas jumpers and trips to my god mother an her mother's house on Boxing Day.
The memory that touches me most is Christmas 2006. We were living in the Midlands, and travelled after work on Christmas Eve, to my parent's house in Portsmouth. Following our marriage we had spent Christmas with our respective families on alternate years and 2006 was my parent's turn.
My Dad had been retired and in and out of hospital for over 2 years, and I was happy to get the chance to spend another Christmas with him, and with Mum and my brother and of course my darling husband.
We arrived in the early evening, my brother who was working/ living in London at the time arrived after us minus his bag (which he had left on the train). The presents were great but unimportant the food was fabulous as usual. Darling husband and I went out to Midnight Mass at the nearest church (which just happened to be the church where Dad had been priest-in-charge until illness retired him and we wished we hadn't really. You see the most important part of this Christmas celebration was to come.
In their tiny sitting room my Dad celebrated Communion on Christmas morning wearing the Gold stole which we had bought him for Christmas a few years before, and then we took Dad out in his wheelchair wrapped up against the biting winter sea breeze and walked along the seafront. Dad was desperate to get out in the fresh air, Mum took loads of persuasion, and it certainly was no mean feat pushing Dad in his manual wheelchair whilst pipe smoke billowed up from under his broad brimmed hat!
This evening at Midnight Mass, my husband will wear the gold stole, and I will thank God for that Christmas and all Christmas's past, for my Dad's life and the memory of his last Christmas with us, and for the coming of the Messiah that first Christmas and I may shed a little tear.