A time for contemplation--Tricia McGill

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Well Christmas is over and once again it is time to think about the coming New Year festivities. I hope your day was as wonderful as you hoped it would be. And I sincerely hope that your day was spent with your loved ones.

As I write this in my study in Australia (on the 24th) with my ceiling fan going and the temperature hovering around 30degC (86degF) I am singing along with the guy on the radio as he croons about sleigh bells ringing and snow in the lane outside while dreaming of a white Christmas. This is funny really as I haven’t seen snow in over 30 years, and don’t wish to. I did love snow as a child but from memory it seldom snowed on Christmas day in London and doubt it does these days either with the climate warming.
My magnificent bougainvillea
Christmas time means different things to all people. Mainly it is a time for family. I tend to think too much about those who are not as fortunate as I, the homeless, the lonely, or sick. My sister has spent two Christmas days in hospital over the years and there is nothing as depressing as being hospitalized on this special day.

I tend to spend a lot of time around this period of the year contemplating on Christmas’s past. I guess it has something to do with getting older, as I am not alone in this, I know. Being the youngest in a large, boisterous family my memories of my childhood Christmases are all good. I believed in Santa and certainly did not believe it when told by an uncaring older cousin that there was no such thing as Father Christmas. Looking back, that’s really a very cruel truth to tell a child. No, this could not be, and to this day I still believe that Santa does exist. Of course he does, if only in our imaginations. It’s part of the wonder of childhood, that belief that he has all those elves helping him to make the presents and then he delivers them to every far-flung corner of the world in his sleigh. But with this belief and adulthood comes the truth, and the story begins to unravel. There is far too much poverty and starvation in the world and there must be multitudes who are just wondering where their next meal is coming from, and not what Santa is bringing them.

I watched the ads on my TV and heard stories from friends of the massive waste that goes on around this time and despair, especially when I see the amount of food being bought and consumed. Not to mention the expensive gifts some children asked Santa to bring them. Most of my gifts were made my members of my family, and were cherished for this reason. Very few people seem to make gifts anymore and the children are more than satisfied with their I Pods, computer games and high-tech gizmos. Except for the very small who are still happier to play with the box the toy came in than the gift itself.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if these indulgent parents who spend a fortune on their children encouraged them to give up at least some of their gifts to the poor, homeless and sick?

So, this time of year brings those contemplations. While walking my dogs this morning I counted my many blessings. Here I was walking, as I do every day, with six pins holding my lower spine in shape, so that is my main blessing to count, plus being fated to live in a country where there are expert surgeons to perform such miracles, and where I am given access to their aid. I sit here able to see my words as I type, another blessing indeed. I lay down to rest each night in my comfortable bed in my home that my husband and I had built with money we were able to earn by living in a society free of restrictions.

I’ve received a 2016 diary from a friend which contains a wealth of advice that I will treasure. As I turn the page each day I will find a phrase or saying to live each day by. I have found one at random that seems a perfect gem for each and every one us. “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.”

There are also some words of wisdom on how to plan for a longer life.

“See the glass half full.” Ok, that’s me, ever the optimist. Apparently we recover faster from illness.

“Find true love.” So far, so good.

“Exercise” As mentioned above, I walk every day so should improve my physical and mental health.

“Have a social circle.” That is another of my blessings, I cherish my friends and family and know there is always someone I can call on for help if needed.

“Have a pet.” Wouldn’t be without my furry babies. They help to keep my blood pressure down, listen with interest to my grumbles, know my every mood, and they make me laugh.

“Laugh a lot.” I thank the Lord that I have laughed well through my life and continue to see the funny side of things. So that accounts for me not getting overly stressed about minor issues. My motto is, if it can’t be changed then don’t be fussed about it.

There are a few more words of advice but these just about cover the main ones to live by. I’ve just found another phrase that really hits the nail on the head. “Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you.” All in all, I should be around for a few more years.

All that remains is for me to wish you the compliments of the season, no matter how you celebrate this time of the year, and may all your wishes come true in 2016. And don’t forget that each day is a gift and should be lived to the fullest. And count your blessings.


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