I normally try to send a short missive in the week before Christmas to wish everyone a safe and happy summer holiday period (or winter, if you happen to be OS at this time), but this year has been one of challenges and great change. Rather than rush something off, I decided to reflect a little, enjoy a very quiet Christmas day with my husband and two boys, and one “waif and stray” as my mother used to refer to guests we would have on Christmas day.

It’s her generosity – of spirit and in action – that has come to mind so very much in the lead up to Christmas day. When I was little and my father died, mum was left with very little at all. She would start paying off the butcher in July for the leg of ham, leg of pork, and enormous turkey she would prepare on Christmas day.

Two tables would be moved into our lounge room – the dining table and an old Namco kitchen table that had become her sewing table. We couldn’t fit them both into the dining room. I would cover them with her best lace table cloths, lay out her silver cutlery that was only ever used for special occasions, add glassware, silver salt and pepper shakers that belonged to my grandmother, and the crackers. The chairs were moved in last.

Mum would sit 20 people down to Christmas lunch. The family at that time consisted of five people. The other 15 were the “waifs and strays”. These were neighbours or friends with no family nearby, or who lived alone. Without mum, these people would’ve spent Christmas day alone. And of course, in those days, there were no mobile phones or video calls. To phone interstate meant booking a trunk call and paying a small fortune…

As it was, we had a wonderful meal, an afternoon of laughter and music and games, and some incredible memories to treasure.

My mother is long gone, but her genuine acceptance of others, her inclusiveness, and her kindness, are abiding legacies for me as her daughter – I try hard to live like this every day. I think Usui’s precepts would have resonated greatly with her…

There is a song, a beautiful version of which is sung by Julie Andrews, called The Secret of Christmas, which says that “the secret of Christmas is not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through.”

This year in particular, we have all needed to receive kindness and patience, and we’ve all needed to extend it to others at different times. We’ve all needed to be more generous – within our own households and in the broader community – whether with our time, our funds, or with things we own/have access to and can share. We usually behave like this around Christmas time, but I’ve seen evidence of it throughout this year – this year, many of us having been doing Christmas things all year through, just as the song says.

We have been soooo challenged this year in Australia – by a massive danger (the bushfires), and by a tiny one (COVID-19) – both have proved destructive and, tragically for some of us, fatal. And while these two have affected us all, the rest of life’s challenges didn’t take a holiday. Severe illness for some, bereavements for others. Mental and emotional health issues. Financial and employment challenges. This list goes on.

Time and again, we rise to the occasion. Resilience is a word that is often over-used, yet is appropriate.

Don’t forget that it’s being strong to reach out to a friend or family member if you’re having a difficult day. Acknowledging that things are feeling a bit overwhelming at times isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of self-awareness. Reaching out to someone gives them an opportunity to offer kindness.

I have seen some truly wonderful happenings this year as a result of how people, and some organisations, have met the pandemic and environmental catastrophes with inventive and creative solutions. And I’ve seen parts of the world benefit enormously as unexpected outcomes of the pandemic restricting travel led to cleaner air and water for example. There is no great loss without gain.

We are moving into a new year, and things are looking promising on many fronts – and so I close this reflective piece with a strong feeling of gratitude – gratitude that even when things looked helpless, I had Reiki. Gratitude for the lessons I’ve learnt along the way this year. Gratitude for the legacy of family. Gratitude a remarkable community of Reiki folk. Gratitude for the support and interaction with fellow authors and artists…

Stay sane, safe, and well. May 2021 bring many blessings and opportunities.

Love & Light,

Sue