The Christmas Garden

On Christmas Eve I did nothing. The tree stood decorated for weeks, the presents wrapped, the cards written, my mother and daughters’ gifts posted, the menu decided and the garden watered and silent – except for the wind which, from time to time, sorts out the leaves. 
I have been reading Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. I don’t think I’ve ever read it in its entirety. This story of the bitter, greedy and cold hearted Scrooge whose motto is “keep Christmas in your way and let me keep it in mine” and who is forced to face his ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come. Despite the western world’s slow secularisation amidst polarised religious ideas, Christmas has to be, as Scrooge’s nephew proffers

     ….a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as id they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Scrooge, in the end, is given another opportunity to do good and join life.

  
For me, this Christmas is a time to reflect on family. This Christmas, a life long dream of finding my father’s family has come to be realised. For the last three months I have been communciating with my lost family in the Czech republic. They live in a place similar to here on the Mount. They are like me, they love the garden and they love Christmas. We will visit them for the first time this January, they have been abundantly generous and open-hearted – it will be a momentous meeting. 

 
  
  
With these thoughts in mind, I wish you all the time to reflect over the Christmas season. I thank my family for their love and support; to my new Czech family, this has been an amzaing journey and one which continues; to my school colleagues, you are so very special in my life, to my wonderful neighbours here on the Mount and to all those amazing people I have encountered throughout the year, may this Christmas bring you solace and happiness. Like Scrooge in the end, may we know how to keep Christmas well…may that be said of us, and all of us.” Merry Christmas one and all.

  
   
   
And…. find time to be yourself and grow in the garden ……. 🙂

Christmas Chicks

Sorry if the title misleads you, but after ten years of having chickens here on the Mount, we have never had success in raising chicks. Even now that we have Long John Silver, our Plymouth Rock Rooster, so aptly named by Colin for his long legs and silver plumage, we have had no success. Maybe it’s the cold, or the fact that our hens don’t get broody for some reason. I don’t know why, really. Long John Silver seems to be doing his best, but the girls are not clucky.

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On the other hand, my mother-in-law, Esther and sister-in-law, Maree have always inspired me to tackle the impossible. They do just this – not once in a while, but every day. From sewing, upholstering, inventing and solving intricate problems, they have taught me to give it a go. My mother-in-law has raised many chicks, chickens, peacocks, parrots, ducks and pheasants and nursed and nurtured them in the cold and in the heat. So when she gave four hens to Maree a couple of months ago, little did we know that new life would hatch so quickly. Just today, her broody chicken, Naomi, patiently sitting on four “borrowed” eggs and hand fed by Maree during the incubation delivered her brood. They are the Christmas Chicks – the miracle of new life; the wonderful parallel to the waiting and watching which we commemorate at His birth.

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The Christmas story is one of simplicity and reverence – for life, for the wonder of discovery, the hope of the new and the love shown to God’s creatures, great and small.

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May we not dismiss the fragility of life, the deep care we show for each other, echoed in the most basic of all stories – that of a simple birth witnessed by those simple creatures long, long ago. Merry Christmas – let’s take a moment to appreciate what we all have.