The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
The rain is tapping the windows in a frenzied attempt to enter our home. Its staccato rhythm blends with the joyous laughter of Boy 1 and Boy 2 as they explore the intricasies of new possessions, and wallow in the rare pleasure of not having to be anywhere other than here.
Yesterday was the best Christmas Day I can remember for many years. I think last year served as a huge reminder that Christmas in not about presents, or possessions. It is about family.
Twelve months ago I could barely summon the energy to put up the Christmas tree. Presents were shoved in gift bags, no attempt made to hide or keep surprises, Christmas did not exist in my heart. My mother was deathly ill. She bled every day and the chronic anaemia had taken chunks from her senses: of taste, her ability to swallow, her eyesight (not the best anyway), her concentration and worst of all, her desire to live. She cried daily, exclaiming: "Why do I have to wake up to this hellish life every morning? Why can't I just die."
Christmas day she was so unwell that she didn't even want to see her grandchildren. I packed up her baked lunch into an esky, took it to her, sat and watched as she picked, and fiddled, and ate barely a morsel. I then packed up the dishes and returned to eat my now cold meal, well after my family had finished theirs. And my heart broke a little more, as it had daily in the months since the nightmare began.
Fast forward to yesterday morning. We awoke to the laughter of our manic boys, the house a shimmer with lights, and tinsel, decorations and loudly caroling, jiggling, mechanical Christmas figurines. The boys opened a few presents, but most were kept to be shared later, as we calmly began preparing lunch. Soon glorious smells of roasting chicken smothered in bacon wafted through the rooms. Boy 1 and myself grabbed an umbrella, and set off. To pick up Nanna. My miracle Mum. The rest of the day was one of the quietly happiest days of my life. I floated, wrapped in a cloak of contentment and peace. Mum stayed all day, and when I took her home she was tired but elated. And full to the brim with her huge meal of chicken drizzled with gravy, roast pumpkin, sweet potato, potato, broccoli, corn on the cob, and carrots, consumed with gusto. She even partook of her old tipple of choice, port with lemonade (eat your heart out Esme Watson). A huge contrast to last year's dismal degustation. She even had some of the steamed, alcohol drenched, impregnated with rich, decadent dried fruit pudding.
What a truly wonderful family Christmas day, the way it is meant to be. Full up of love; laughter; life; joy. A Christmas of the heart. God, I love my life right now.
Peace to you all.