Christmas has been and gone. New Years Eve has been and gone. The new year is here and the first month is more than half past. Would it be a cliché to ask where does the time go? It would, you say? Sorry. But where has it gone?
Harking back, Christmas 2012 was a day of transit. A 2am flight from Mumbai to Johannesburg. A quick layover and onwards to Cape Town and a deep sleep in my hotel room. I'd had a good long chat with the family on Christmas eve, as I wandered the streets of Fort Cochin, soaking up the last of India for the time being.
Christmas 2013 was a good one but so very different from 2012. Being home and near my family and friends is great all year round but especially at Christmas. And it's not just Christmas day, it's the season. The various work functions, the gatherings of friends, the preparation for it, the napping and the recovering. I loved it this year. All of it.
As long as I've been alive, Dad's family have celebrated Christmas on the Sunday before hand. Dad's one of nine boys and I guess Christmas got pretty hard to co-ordinate early on, especially as it's usually the woman that get's her way, right? (No? Just in my family?). It's a laid back affair. A BBQ in a park, BYO meat and a salad to share. We had some sunshine but mostly rain graced us this year, my first since 2007.
2013 was a rough year on Dad's family. In July we lost Jon, a brother and uncle to cancer. Whilst expected and a long time coming, it was sad. Suddenly, after 60+ years, there weren't 9 boys anymore, only 8. Then in November we lost another, Ike. Whilst his health hadn't always been great, it was sudden and unexpected. Yet somehow not totally unexpectedly. He was having a cup of tea, and then he wasn't with us any more. Just as we were adjusting to 8, it became 7.
With this as a background, Dad's family Christmas seemed to take on more importance this year. People arrived a little earlier, we all stayed a little longer, no one wanting to really leave. Lots of laughs, lots of hugs, catching up, lots of stories and yeah, perhaps a few beers. I'm glad to have been home for this one.
Christmas day itself was a day in parts. Lunch at the boy's sister's house with his family and dinner at mine with my family. For all I've done in my life, nothing has made me feel as grown up or adult like as ordering the Christmas turkey, let alone cooking it. All went well and I loved the day but be sure I slept well afterwards. So well in fact that we delayed our little get away a day, spending boxing day on the couch watching the cricket rather than travelling.
A few days spent camping along the Murray in scorching sunshine with friends, and NYE with my love, my best friend, her husband and a couple of bottles of Champagne whilst their baby slept next door. Simple but perfect.
Following that, a bad bout of tonsillitis that knocked me around (and forced me to slow down, read a few books and watch a lot of The West Wing). As bad as I felt, there were upsides.
Then it was now.
When people ask me if I'm glad I'm home, the answer is a resounding yes. There are things I miss about my former life, but it’s the memories from these days that are important to me and what I want. Of my 6 year old niece helping me to trim the flowers and lay the place settings for Christmas. Of making origami ninja stars on Christmas even with my nephew. Of building lego and cracking crackers. Of recalling family stories of Christmases past. And of making new ones.
Belated as it may be, I hope your Christmas season was golden and that 2014 so far has been gentle on you and your loved ones.