By Eithne Cullen
Welcome to my Thoughtful Tuesday page for December.
It’s hard to think about December without thinking about Christmas. Even people who haven’t grown up with the religious or festive nature of the Christmas season, see the lights, the decorations and the fuss going on all around them. So, thinking about our theme of ‘Reality And Perspectives’, Christmas is a big thing, whichever way you look at it, and many of our submissions for this time of year centre around Christmas.
Firstly, here’s a short piece from Hongwei about the feelings the season evokes, even if you feel like an outsider, looking in.
I hopped off a bus and was on my way home, feeling tired and hungry. I couldn’t help but slow my footsteps. The road was quiet, almost deserted, apart from the cars neatly parked on both sides of the street. All the houses looked full, and busy. Lights were on; almost too many. The colourful lights decorating the green cypress trees and holly bushes in the front gardens reminded me that it was Christmas.
Christmas wasn’t a holiday I typically celebrated, and yet I was away from my family in China. I couldn’t help being drawn to the festive atmosphere, looking into the brightly lit windows. Inside one window stood a big, camel-like reindeer with a red nose; inside another, a woman was preparing something on the kitchen top; inside yet another, some silhouettes of figures were moving around, as if dancing to music, as if playing a game.
A warm feeling arose in me, and I felt a sudden throb in my heart. Perhaps it was the cold winter air. Perhaps it was the smoke from the burning wood somewhere. Perhaps it was a feeling of joy. Until I realised I was the only person walking on the street, looking into other people’s lives, their happiness.
© Hongwei Bao, 2023
Connect with Hongwei on X: @PatrickBao1
Next up is a seasonal poem, reminding us that Christmas can also be a time for thinking about others.
A Thought For Christmas
To those who are lonely, suffering or lost
A small gesture of kindness comes at no cost
A smile or ‘hello’ to acknowledge they’re there
A tender hug to show that you care
Something so small can have the greatest effect
To give someone hope and you time to reflect
Some of us are blessed with a family and a home
Whilst others sleep rough and are all alone
Material things that mean so much
Don’t even come close to that personal touch
Our time is precious and ours to share
With whom we choose and with those we care
A moment to stop and say hello
A Merry Christmas wish and then off you go
But a moment of your time is all that you need
To make someone feel noticed, their soul you will feed
A smile you can bring to a person’s face
Gives satisfaction that cannot be replaced
Because you put that there by showing you cared
To stop, to talk – your time you have shared.
My wish for Christmas is to spread Festive cheer
There is no better way to end the year
Merry Christmas to you all
© Tammy Griffiths Palmer, 2023
Thanks for sharing your good wishes, Tammy.
Akshitha has submitted a piece which recalls a memory, not about Christmas, but still managing to evoke the feelings of a memory based at this time. It’s a powerful slice of reality.
That December Night
It was December 20th 2017, two am. The winter winds sowed the deepest fear in my heart. The murky night shook me off with an insane howl. It was Mom; she let out a loud, doleful wail. Squeezing her skull out of tremendous pain. Blood-curdling, it was.
Every minute from then on, her memory began fading drastically and she forgot everything, including my dad’s name. And that shattered us nearly to death. All that Mom remembered was just me and my brother.
A hope in the void helped us build a substantial move. We threw her into the car and drove to Coimbatore. During the two-and-a-half-hour journey from Salem, I felt wholly like a cat on hot bricks. Every breath drowned our lungs with utmost fear.
We reached several renowned hospitals and consulted the best doctors in the city. But all our efforts were in vain. Innumerable tests, scans, x-rays, examinations, reports and beyond, all the killing pain swirling us around like a typhoon, was deadly disarrayed. At the end of the day, it was diagnosed as ‘Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis & intracerebral haemorrhage.’
And, all they concluded was that the known would remain known and, to save her, the only option would be life-risking surgery which involved breaking her skull.
The dearth of our mental strength buried us in the hopeless dunes of uncertainty. A friend of ours then introduced us to a neurologist for a final opinion before any decision. At the moment of mournfulness, as we were craving for something positive to happen, we didn’t disregard his words. We mustered our hope and plunged into the ambulance, heading to Royal Care Hospital with the wish for good to happen.
Once we reached there, Mom was swiftly moved to the Casualty. Dr Vijayan, along with other neurologists, made a deep examination and came up with astounding words of hope: “Risky, though surgery is not required,” he said.
The showered hope was so very much like a monsoon rain that inexplicably flooded all our agony.
Mom was then immediately moved to the intensive care unit and was treated there for a week and a half; later shifting to the ward. The progress in her health was incredibly flamboyant. From then, all that happened went impeccably and the unknown swayed to the happening known!
© Akshitha Ramalingam, 2023
My final piece is from Tavinder New. It feels very personal, but the feelings she shares made me think about how we review the year as December slips to a close, helping us reflect on what has gone before. Another look at our realities. And I think this is a good note to end on.
We Are Still Here
We are still here, we are still together
Come what may, came it did,
We are still here, we are still together.
Come what may, came it did,
We still stand, we still care
Through the thick trials,
Through the dark despair,
Through the good times,
We are still here. We are still together.
We are a pair.
Come what may, came it did,
We didn’t despair, we didn’t break away,
Through the trenches,
Through the deep dangers,
Through the great good times.
We are still here, we are still together,
We are a special pair.
© Tavinder Kaur New, 2023
Connect with Tavinder on X: @NewTavinder and on their website: wordpress.com/post/tavindernew.wordpress.com
Thanks to all our contributors this month and all who have filled my Thoughtful Tuesday pages this year.
My ‘And finally’ comments will be just to wish you a Happy Christmas and a great New Year. Enjoy the end of 2023 and celebrate in style, whatever you decide to do.
Issue 19 of Write On! is available to read online here.
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Christmas is a big thing whichever way you look at it.