Another year, another Christmas letter – what shall I bore you with this year?
As has become the custom in my annual Christmas Letter, I think one should start with a Barkley and Max update, as they are the cutest creatures on the face of the earth, in spite of the fact they still fail to scratch back and they shed hair about my humble abode. Barkley had a mishap a couple of years back, she tore CCL, the canine equivalent to an ACL; I am very pleased to report a nearly complete recovery. Barkley possesses, even at 10 years old, exceptional athleticism – when fit she weighs about 75lbs and every pound of muscle functions with perfect symmetry, the result being something beautiful to watch in action. I am very grateful to see her back at about 90% of her old self and I am deriving pleasure from watching her run.
Max is as affable as ever, kindness is his contribution to the world – that, and he often sleeps outside on guard duty – he keeps me up to speed on the comings and goings of things – never has a gentler soul found a place on the earth. The challenge Max poses as a guard dog, is his inclination to speak to hear the sound of his own voice – the eco thing. We spend time in the woods and on lakes, wherever we encounter an eco-opportunity Max keeps me up at night barking at himself. As has been pointed out on Facebook by some good friends, it's apparent he is seeking expert advice. Do as I say, do as I say, do as I say …………………………
Last year’s big event was Kate’s wedding; this year’s big event is the pending birth of Ry & Kate’s little boy. I’m very excited about the arrival of another playmate; Nash & Olin are a most agreeable addition to my friend roster. It has become apparent to me that the whole adult thing is bothersome, grandchildren provide a great way to avoid adulthood - they like to play, pretend and generally ignore what the middle generation deems as reality. When tinkering with alternate realities, spend time with children, they have a healthy, unfettered view of the world – a view that informs one that offloading the weight of the world frees the mind – it is a “beyond the rabbit hole” experience – gravitational as opposed to hallucinogenic.
There are fortuitous turns of events and we had one in Kamloops this year, fate returned Jess to Kamloops along with her two little boys. We also get Kevin back on regular intervals, so for Samba (me) this is a very good thing. It has been the case that Jess has been near in the mornings, so I’ve been able to attend to the boys at breakfast time, make them tea, shoot the breeze, and impart vital data to them, like how to make the world’s longest raspberry. There is no greater source of joy than grandchildren I believe, it is difficult to explain, they liberate you to a degree and yet they evoke a great sense of responsibility.
There comes at this time of year, now, more than ever, a confluence of thoughts that has my father held prominent; Harry was his name. I was Nash’s age when my brother Duncan picked me up to bid him goodbye – Harry’s time had come, too early for me and everyone else – we congregated as a family around him lying there stock still in a casket – at four I was too short to see him; Duncan, 12 at the time, picked me up to kiss him goodbye. This seems a somewhat melancholy artifact to offer in a Christmas letter; joy however, is as much a product of contrast, as it is of jolly. Seeing my grandsons grow brings this to mind, it provides some leave for me to be as I am and I derive happiness in their contrasted circumstance.
It is useful at Christmas time, I think, to reflect a little on the metaphysical. I had as an introduction to theology the words of Molly, a teacher by trade. She said to me that if you want to make sure that someone you love is safe, go through this exercise. Imagine the earth, then imagine a circle of light around it, reach to that circle of light and pull down a string of light from it and wrap the string of light around the person you want to keep safe. I was eleven when she gave me this as a gift; I have used it successfully a million times, particularly where my daughters are concerned and now my grandsons. There was nothing attached to this, it was a mental exercise, it liberated me and does to this day. It has been my greatest source of comfort, it has been there in the absence of people or in their presence, it offers no judgement, it gives no direction – it is an affirmation the there is a link for us all, a means to be connected even when distance of any kind exists between us. I thought this Christmas would pass this comfort on to you all to have and use as I have so many times – there is no theological bias in its application, so please consider it a gift at Christmas time rather than a Christmas gift and apply it to seek peace for yourself.
Life progresses, I hope your life progresses favourably in 2016. Merry Christmas from me, Barks & Max – to you whatever greeting works for you – enjoy what matters – the people you love.