Friday, 30 December 2011

Time for the thank you letters

God, I've forgotten to water my poinsettia and it's looking more than a little droopy. I forgot last week as well but managed to get to it in time and it sort of perked up again, but this time the green leaves have taken umbrage and rolled up a bit so I wonder if it's past the point of no return. Lord, heal my poor neglected poinsettia. I hoped it would make it through to the new year. 

Sigh. This is the limbo period after Christmas, when visitors have gone, the presents are opened and the party food has been eaten. With the huge operation of Christmas over and all the excitement and noise gone. the space that has been taken up for the last few weeks by planning and organising and so on is free and this morning as I lay in bed I could feel unease lurking in the distance again. Vague worries and uncertainties just in the periphery looking opportunistically for a way in again. I'm fighting against it. 

Here's the thing. The presents have been largely assimilated into toiletry cabinets and toy boxes and bookshelves and jewellery boxes. One toy has been broken already and is waiting with other injured items for Gluing. The food mountain has gone - my bulging fridge is almost empty now; even the cling-filmed leftover plates are dwindling. The guests are back in their own houses and the Christmas music has been left off today because it doesn't feel festive any more. The washing machine is back in action (actually on it's sixth load already) and the bin men are back on their rounds with grim faces as they collect the permitted 'additional bags of seasonal refuse' that we have obediently 'placed neatly at the side of the bin'. Such is life

Festivities are over. The carols are finished and we've unwrapped our presents and eaten everything in our paths. I'm contemplating taking the decorations down - a job I never look forward to. It has all the mess and stress of getting them out and putting them up without the lovely warm sense of promise or anticipation. Sigh.

It feels like it's all over. We plan it all and enjoy it all but no matter how we try to savour it, it all slips away. Just like the food in the fridge, it all has a use-by date. We drain the last drops and we recycle the paper and we cast about for something to replace the Christmassy feeling. Every year I find this period a bit flat and when it's pouring with rain and cold and blustery and dark outdoors it doesn't do anything to lift the spirits.

It's a good job that you don't need tinsel and fairy lights surrounding you to be real.

The only thing that doesn't slip away out of our grasp is you. The only eternal, unchanging, everlasting, fundamentally permanent thing is you. All the joys that we can create here at Christmas are things that evaporate or run out or simply time-out. All the gifts are inconsequential apart from the baby in the manger.

I had some wonderful presents this year. I am far too interested in 'stuff' I suppose; I never feel that I am difficult to buy presents for because, I'm embarrassed to say, that there are always plenty of things that I want. This year I think people were particularly perceptive and many of my gifts were absolutely delightful. I am grateful for the thought that people put in and I'm grateful for the money and time they put in to choosing and buying things for me. 

But... I am aware that even beautiful jewellery will tarnish and the loveliest of wine will be drunk and electrical gadgets will become obsolete and clothes will wear and fade. Chocolates will disappear (miraculously - with two small girls in the house it's getting worse than ever - you can't put a chocolate down for five minutes unattended and expect it to be there when you get back) and even my old favourite books will be read and shelved and forgotten.

The only gift I have ever been given that I will always have is the gift that you gave me. 

Jesus Christ. Born into obscurity two thousand years ago because mankind needed a rescue package. Born because you love us more than anything. Born because you love us so much that the price of your only Son wasn't too high a price to pay to bring us home. 

There's a gift. It didn't come wrapped up in sparkly paper and it didn't look much like your average Christmas present but it was the most dramatic, extravagant, inspirational, wonderful, generous gift there could be. 

I'm going to get round to 'thank you' letters soon, Father. I have people all over the country to write to so that they know how pleased we are with the presents they sent. I can usually get them done without much hassle, but there's one thank you letter that I've no idea how to write.

I can't even begin to say thank you for what you have done for me; I can't put it into words that would be anywhere close to adequate. 

Let my life be a thank you letter instead. 

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