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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Absent Friends

I love Christmas when family and friends are all gathered together. But there are gaps in the midst of all the happiness and the gaps are caused by precious people who are no longer with us. Of course I miss these people throughout the year but at Christmas their loss is heightened. When the doorbell goes on Christmas Day I want it to be my mother standing outside with brandy butter in a silver grapefruit dish. She bought that dish from a house clearance sale. It was in a box of other things and was black. She lovingly cleaned it and from then on it was used, not for grapefruit, but for her homemade butter to go with the Christmas pudding. It is mine now and I follow that tradition.

From my mother and her side of the family I get my love of cooking, flower gardening, chickens and art. The Wilton Diptych is one of my favourite paintings and if you get the chance to visit the National Gallery in London it is well worth a look. For something that is over 600 years old it is wonderfully well preserved and the colours are stunning. This is one of the panels.

From my father I have been given a love of books, the countryside, walking, dogs and growing vegetables. He read a great deal but always returned to Charles Dickens. I love Dickens too, especially Great Expectations but my father's favourite was Bleak House.

I miss my father-in-law too. He was always the life and soul of any party. He was a good sportsman excelling at most things he turned his hand to. He passed on his love of cricket to my husband and sons. He would have loved England's recent victory over India in the Test series. This photo isn't the England team - it's even better! It's the members of Stoneygate Cricket Club, including my husband and sons and was taken on tour at Castle Rising in Norfolk.

I miss my grandparents who gave me so much love and time and my wonderful godmother for her gentleness and wisdom. She was brilliant with words too and I treasured the chatty letters she sent when I was at boarding school. I miss my beautiful friend, Charlotte, who was killed in a car accident when we were only eighteen. I often wonder what sort of life she would be leading now and if we would still be friends.

We make new traditions. We make new families. In the New Year a baby will add to our number and the family will shift and grow again. But it is those who have gone before who make us who and what we are now. So at Christmas I will pour myself a glass of champagne and make a toast to absent friends. I hope that all of these people and others I haven't mentioned are up there amongst the stars looking down on me and my family.

Thank-you for reading my blog over the past few months and I send you special wishes for happiness and peace at Christmas and in the year to come.

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