Memory is a crazy woman that hoards coloured rags and throws away food. ~Austin O'Malley
What is left after the food is consumed, the presents opened, the visitors departed? What remains in the memory after 5 decades of Christmas' Past? The tawdry tinsel & rags of memory. A patchwork of odds & ends. The fleeting moments.
Early mass ~ & it was early, too early for Ditz; Liddy was barely awake ~ & Liddy staring at me wide eyed as I rambled my way through the mass that Liddy was uncharacteristically silent for. She might as well have shouted from the roof tops," How come you know this stuff?" Anglican up~bringing; not enough difference in the prayer book to matter though I do always forget the pause before the last bit of the Lord's Prayer. I know great gobs of it by heart. And so I should. Even now, come January, we will worship with my mother at her Anglican church.
Liddy again, whispering anxiously to ensure I understood I couldn't receive communion because she rocks up to mass occasionally with friends. For years, when I didn't drive, the Catholic church was the only one I could get to so as I hadn't put my wafer in the bowl I knew I wasn't taking communion . As to whether I can or not, well every Catholic church seems to have a different take on that these days but unless I know I don't usually push the issue though I can do without trying to explain the theology of *the real presence* halfway through mass! Yikes. Thanks Lid. Yeah I know, but what is a Quaker lady to do when there is no local Meeting? Besides Catholicism shares more with Quakerism than one might think at first glance. They have kept the practice of meditation for one thing.
Meditation. Like oasis there are those pools of quiet contemplation within the mass, most apparent just before the homily while the father thumbed through the scriptures communing with God before he spoke ~ & then I was surprised! I don't think I have ever, not in all the years I was around Catholic churches, not even amongst the progressive charismatic Catholic churches, have I ever heard an evangelical message ~ but I heard one Christmas morning. Simple, direct & to the point. All another might ever know of God they know from you. Yes indeed.
Images of the cousins hugging Ditz to death ~ Ditz, who is so not keen on being hugged. It's an age thing. Dino lighting the fire. Cold enough for one & not too windy. The kids all sitting round it under the summer bright stars yarning the way only teens can while the sparks lept skywards & the flickering flames curled around the dark wood. The smell of coming rain, of heat & burning wood, of chlorine & damp earth. Issi crying under the car, surprised by rain & oh, so happy to be scooped up & brought inside, snuggled in my arms. Lunatic cat.
Dino proudly showing off his girl. Great drifts of rain scudding across the bay & swirls of cloud gathering in the wind until all the world is reduced to the sound of drumming rain & the Christmas tree lights winking steadily through the gloom while the kids work their way steadily through the pile of toffees on the coffee table. Other Christmas' have been more exciting but in the end Christmas is about just two things: Christ with us & we were all together. Next year Liddy won't be with us so this year may be the last for some time. Tuck the memories away safely for the empty times when we can't all be together.