December is a lovely time of the year for me.
I love the build up to Christmas Day, exchanging gifts, writing cards, receiving messages, house visits, meeting for a coffee with timeless friends, family get-togethers, adult children recalling their stories and grandchildren creating theirs.
There is a spiritual warmth about it, a calmness as the mind slowly pauses from its racing self, a communal togetherness that somehow remains hidden for the rest of the year.
2020 was a little different for all of us – freedoms of movement restricted or curtailed when words like quarantine, intensive care, ventilators become an integral part of our own conversations with our ‘self-isolating’ selves. Even then, the price we have had to pay for facilitating a rapid and deadly virus, as it sweeps through all our lives in what we call the next wave of Covid-19, can put the fear emotion into overdrive.
Perhaps none of us are immune from the pressures and stresses that have come our way since early 2020. I too had to deal with the anguish of family members and close friends battling with Covid over Christmas. Some lost loved ones and as a result also caught the virus themselves. The selfless, brave, and courageous way that these close contacts went about their daily lives whilst living in the eye of the Covid storm is nothing short of heroic.
Then we have the very vulnerable in long term residential care homes, hospital patients and their remarkable care givers, all braving the on-gushing tsunami pandemic as greater numbers of these brave professionals catch the virus themselves. Still no talk of leaving their posts by anybody at any level – again beyond heroic.
Then we have all the other people on the frontline; going to work, doing their duty, meeting all the various needs of the rest of us, and not looking for anything extra in return. For me, it goes beyond anything I have ever witnessed in my lifetime and makes my gratitude list a little easier to fill every day.
January always follows with its carpet of snowflakes, frosty mornings, and the missing ‘Cock Step’ / ‘Stretch in the Evenings’. It can be dark, dreary and disconsolate.
Then it is time to take down the greeting cards, read these slowly, one by one again. There is always something very comforting from the written word crafted out of love, kindness, affection, and appreciation.
Going through these genuine thoughtful gestures of best wishes always helps to raise the spirits and especially when I look around the room and see the gifts that arrived also. As an unashamed lover of words, wordsmith of some sorts, a word manufacturer (as a late friend from my recovery network often described this art) I am always looking for insights, motivations and as to why do people write and say the things they say and write .
One such card caught my eye this year – it came completely unexpectedly onto my desk at Smarmore Castle Private Clinic (where I was the interim Deputy Clinic Manager) mixed in with my Christmas mail.
It said ‘Thanks a lot’ on the outside but it is the message inside that has left an indelible mark on my soul.
“A thank you note.
From me to you
For whom you are
And what you do “
Leaving me catching my breath,
Sixteen words, arranged in order,
Sealed in the envelope it came in,
A gratitude twist in its slip stream.