Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Hogmanay Poem

A moon, almost full
shines it’s glory
O’er Auld Reekie
this Hogmanay 

A grainy expectation,
a city holding
her breath 
for the bells

2017 ye were
a richt nichtmare
fur so mony
o’ us 

2018 aye hopeful
we share oor wishes
wi a shrug
whit can we dae?

Ma resolution is 
take dae whit a’ can
tae be a bit kinder in life
Oh aye, an tae ma sel’! 

Guan yersel
in whatever you’re
resolutions are this Hogmanay 

And cross we’r fingers for better times

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Stories we tell ourselves at Christmas

I’ve never been one for those letters at Christmas generally. Sometimes I’ve shared new addresses with some news or a special event like my sons wedding but avoided the "Tristan got straight A’s in his exams" type annual note accompanying the Christmas card. I’ve always been a tad cynical about the one sided view of life because rarely do we share the hard times on these notes. We're less honest maybe about the family driving us to drink, of working too hard, of exams bombed, of needing to go up a dress size or whatever else keeps us awake at night. Like every falsely glittered Christmas advert we want to enhance the positives in our lives and hide the bulging credit card behind the curtain of our own denial. 
But this has been a hard year and I found myself thinking if I shared the news of the year it would be a great way to kill the Christmas spirit and so of course I haven’t. But I have learned over the years that this blog is one of my ways to process my own feelings and so here I am wanting to write about it nonetheless.
As I have described in earlier blogs, my Mum, Mary, died this year. Her illness started in February and after a long struggle she died in March with my sister and I at her side. We were so relieved that she was peaceful and spared a long slow decline into Alzheimer’s. But she’s also left a real gap which feels wider now as Christmas approaches. All 61 years of my life I’ve spent some time around Christmas with her. Memorable occasions when with the Christmas hat worn at a jaunty angle she would answer all the quiz questions, even the ones not hers. The days when the consumption of jungle juice before dinner was prepared meant the timings might be a bit off. The mince pies that no one else can make nearly as well, all remembered with an ache of sadness and  the warmth of happy times recalled. The fretting about whether she had missed anyone out and the tendency to a Christmas low mood and anxiety, a legacy from childhood, were also a feature if I’m honest but this year even that feels a loss- although one I will cope with better and try not to replicate! I know she will be close to us in many ways this Christmas, never far from our hearts and our stories.
Sharing joy
This year’s other trauma for me has been the diagnosis of a spinal problem. A recent second opinion confirmed that it’s a bony growth on my spine, pressing on my spinal cord, too risky to remove just now, especially while I still have some mobility. No one can tell me if and how it will develop so for the moment I need to stay in the moment, build condition if I can, manage pain and live the life I can. So no more moonwalks or west highland walking for me, no pushing through pain but instead permission to slouch from the physio and maybe a bit more putting my feet up! It’s hard to put any kind of positive spin on it but I am grateful my Mum doesn’t have this particular development to worry about. 

These times remind us to treasure what’s good and time with my family over Christmas will be so very special.I will treasure every moment, I promise. And on the bright side, this year’s diagnosis might get me out of peeling the sprouts? Wishing you all you wish yourself this festive period. And as for 2018 that’s a whole other story...