NOT the Xmas Round Robin….

At Christmas time 2004,  having read about a dozen round robins arriving with their respective cards, all eulogising each family’s travels and achievements in the year just ending, I became seriously fed up.

The “Not the Xmas round robin” concept was born in that moment.

Life is not all sunshine and achievement as depicted in the standard end of the year card insert, I thought to myself. So why not produce something a bit different – a piece of reflection conveying some shadow as well as light, something more honest, something offering a bit of inspiration from our common experiences of being human ?

Since then I have written a “not the Xmas round robin” piece of end-of-year reflection for inclusion in my Xmas cards every year. People like it. So this year I thought I’d share it with you – my increasing band of loyal readers here at “Writing from the Twelfth House”.

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“not the Xmas round robin 2009”

……a quotation from “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach for  8 December states……

“ Gloom we have always with us, a rank and sturdy weed, but joy requires tending.”
Barbara Holland

As you legions of devoted fans of Anne Whitaker’s Annual Thought for the Day will be well aware by now, Ian and I have had a pretty hefty allocation of family and health difficulties in recent years although our overriding feeling continues to be one of gratitude for my full recovery from what I now think of (with a characteristic tinge of melodrama, but not that much!) as my Descent and Return from the Underworld, 2001-08.

There have been many consequences flowing from this experience, and I am very slowly beginning to appreciate what riches one can bring back from the Underworld – provided that the experience of Descent and Return is understood as part of “the stormy journey of the soul” and accepted in that spirit. (not easy, by the way!!)

 

Ian and me, Dartmoor, August 2009

Ian and me, Dartmoor, August 2009

One of the gifts for both Ian and myself – and probably the most important development of 2009 – has been a growing understanding of how vulnerable we all are behind our carefully crafted defences, how ephemeral this life is, and how quickly and brutally all that we thought we had can be taken from us.

Thus we have been learning to live as fully as we can in each day, never being too busy to stop and appreciate the many small but pleasurable moments in life therein.

The still watchfulness of the herons on the nearby River Kelvin. The delightful smile on nine month old neighbour wee Lauchie’s face, as he leans over to rub noses, his latest favourite trick. A peaceful cup of coffee whilst listening to children rehearsing carols in Princes Square, Glasgow’s elegant city centre shopping precinct, magically decorated at this time of year, during a pause in Xmas shopping on a wet and dreary Glasgow day. Having a good laugh, either at our own or the world’s stupidities (have you done your risk assessment before digging out the Xmas tree lights yet?!)

So the quotation above means a lot to me. It is easy to moan and buckle under life’s many pains great and small. But cultivating joy (if you can – I appreciate that life is simply too hard for many people in this world to be able to manage to do so) and living in the moment as much as possible has recently been confirmed by research as being the route to happiness.

So – let me and Ian confirm this truth for you for free. It works!

In conclusion, lest you are beginning by now to think I am losing my sardonic edge in the declining years, I leave you all, especially the over-50s, with this observation recently made to me by a rather cynical but witty person I know:

“Anyone over fifty who is not in pain for one reason or another, is dead!”

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650 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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4 responses to “NOT the Xmas Round Robin….

  1. Hello Anne 🙂

    As you say so well in this post. It is sometimes in finding how vulnerable we are that we first begin to realise how precious life, the people we love and each day is.

    Seems that in learning to live as fully as you could in each day, you have received a gift of being conscious of the wonderful small miracles that are around us all the time if only we take the time to ‘see’ them.

    I have found that dark and difficult times seem to have the silver lining of shaking us out of ‘automatic’ mode and making us more fully aware of life instead of coasting on autopilot.

    Lovely post, thanks for the reminder about ‘tending joy’.

    Seasons greeting to you and very best wishes for the year ahead.

    Susannah x

    (By the way, that is a really nice photo of you and Ian.)

    Like

    • Hi Susannah

      what a heartwarming comment to receive at this deep time of Northern darkness. But without darkness we could never know what light was…..blessings and greetings to you, too. Anne x

      Like

  2. From Paul N by email, 24.12.09

    The last of this year’s Jupiter-Neptune conjunctions at the solstice can be felt very well I think in your Not the Xmas Round Robin piece. It has been a Jupiter-
    Neptune year for us all in many ways, in both its good and bad forms.

    Thanks Paul – always good to have the astrological angle! Anne

    Like

  3. from Joyce M by email, 26.12.09

    Anne, I just love your “counter” to the annual Christmas letter….Holiday letters that are all “upbeat and glossy” without any of the real issues and downside to them read like plastic!

    Thanks, Joyce….perhaps we should start a NTXRR movement from Winter Solstice 2010! Anne

    Like

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