Mistletoe and Holly

Posted on 22 December 2005

CHRISTMAS OVER THE YEARS

I do love Christmas or aspects of it – the mistletoe and holly, the lights, the music, the loving messages from friends, the food, and oh yes, the clinking of glasses… we shall celebrate with sparkling wine from Chateau Mayragues tonight in Susan and David’s warm house. Susan’s son, Adam and his two boys have just arrived for Christmas. Ruth is coming over with her viola so she and David, on his cello, can play Christmas carols. How lovely. Tomorrow evening at one minute past midnight, Rob, Bren, Gill, and I are taking the overnight train to Paris – 1st Class – there are times and this is one of them, that decadence is called for.

This year, we are finding it a little difficult to be jolly, to get in the Christmas spirit, because we’re too damn cold but still I shouldn’t complain: it is beautiful here in the south of France. Yesterday, Rob, Gill, and I went to Toulouse, ate lunch at our favourite quiche place, and then separated to work our way through the crowds to find small gifts for neighbours and each other. I stopped in Place de la Capitole to watch a young man, pretend to be a sculpture, until a child ran up to him and tossed a euro or two into his purse. Then he came to life, played a harmonica and juggled five white balls for a minute or two before returning to his static pose, waiting for the next toss of coins.

The children made me think of Kate who became a mama for the second time on Saturday. She gave birth to a little girl, Mary Christina – a millionaire’s family, says Rob. Gill and I danced around the livingroom in celebration.

Rob and I had four Christmas’ as parents of an only child before our second son arrived.

Christmas with one child

Christmas with two children

And then another four years, until Gill joined the family. She wasn’t impressed that first Christmas with the man with the white beard.

Three Children with Santa

What can I say? I am finding it difficult to write these days. This morning, I felt sad reading Gill’s blog, thinking of her aching, wanting warm arms, while I am within reach. I am too self-absorbed – a poor excuse for a mother, I thought for a moment or two – but I know, really I do, that I cannot (could I ever?) know when my child is unhappy and needs to be held. When I told her that her entry made me sad, she apologized. I asked her not to apologize. I would prefer, she writes what she feels.

But my mood these days is not unlike hers. That damn robbery in Paris still haunts me. If only, if only… I think at least twice a day but the crime did lead me to tell Brendan and Rob that I smoke. I couldn’t stand the idea of being sneaky and underhanded, like the shit that stole my personal property.

Speaking of shit, I’m been reading some pretty tacky novels lately but the other day, I grabbed a book from the shelf and I have no idea where it came from. It’s called “On Beauty: and being just.” I thought it looked like a good car read so tucked it in my bag when we went to the castle for lunch with Susan and David. I wasn’t immediately impressed but this morning, something in Gill’s blog – perhaps “life isn’t always kind” – reminded me of a passage in the book and I’ve searched until I found it:

“Proust, for example, says we make a mistake when we talk disparagingly or discouragingly about ‘life’ because by using this general term, ‘life,’ we have already excluded before the fact all beauty and happiness, which take place only in the particular: ‘we believed we were taking happiness and beauty into account, whereas in fact we left them out and replaced them by syntheses in which there is not a single atom of either.’

Here’s a picture of a particular moment – all the food and wine I could consume, with folks I love, in a fairy tale castle.
Dining in a Castle


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