I wonder if 2015 will see me actually remembering that I have a blog. It all started with great intentions, but, well, that's about as far as it got.
2014 was a challenging year for us as a family. Dad had to learn to cope with his newly diagnosed diabetes, we lost Colin's Mum really quite suddenly, Ealasaid hasn't had the easiest time in school, then Mum was diagnosed with osteoporosis...bit of a shock, but perhaps better than what we were all imagining. She's still in incredible pain, but at least she knows what she's dealing with now. On top of that, we don't even want to talk about the quote Dad's received for the dental work he needs!!
However...we have so, so much to be grateful for inspire of the difficulties. We had a lovely family Christmas...everyone was together, everyone enjoyed at least a measure of good health, three generations of the family had a wonderful time surrounded by gifts galore and, more importantly, love. When I think of what so many other people I know and love are going through, I realise I have so much to be grateful for. Like our friends who lost Great Grandpa just a few days before Christmas...or my old school friend coming home from Canada to visit her parents, knowing that her Mum will be oblivious, as she's suffering from advanced Alzheimer's ... Impossible to comprehend what they must be feeling.
We (well, Mum, Dad and myself...Colin was on babysitting duty!) started off Christmas by attending the Watchnight service here in Lismore...our first time here, believe it or not, after all these years. It was lovely...the church was lit by candlelight, the air was filled with the sound of much loved carols (though Dad had a serious complaint - no Silent Night!!), followed by the sound of he bells ringing at midnight. It was a special, family occasion...and another reminder of what a difficult time this can be for some families...one island family lost their son on Christmas Day 2014 in the most difficult of circumstances. How appropriate that we were asked to wish each other a thoughtful Christmas, as well as the other, perhaps more usual, wishes.
Christmas morning brought the usual chaos, fun, love, laughter...and did I mention chaos?! It was so good to see Ealasaid's entry on her calendar for the 25th December...she'd marked it in as God's day. So despite the chaos, etc, it was good to know that Jesus was still at the heart of our celebrations, even in the eyes of a little child who might have been expected to have eyes only for the gifts she would receive. That said, she was just a teensy wee bit excited, delighted, ecstatic, etc, etc to get her much longed for tablet...along with one or two other presents. The boys didn't do too badly either...mini tablet-type things among their gifts too...to the extent that whenever they get a present from friends of family now, Alasdair yells 'more, more!', while searching for Santa's sack behind the poor person who has just been kind enough to give him a present!
Christmas dinner was also a lovely, family affair. Everyone was there, everyone enjoyed their food (salmon steaks, in case anyone's wondering, along with one or two other bits and pieces!) and we had connections with other family members not present. We sat at my Gran's table, on her chairs, ate with cutlery given as a wedding present by Mary, served some of the food on plates which came from Aunt Violet, while surrounded by decorations which have been in my Mum's family since her Granny was alive. And yes, the dogs did indeed receive their Christmas gifts too...the chews which were meant to last for ages are, of course, ancient history. Just imagine...Oscar (their MacLean predecessor) had a squeaky Christmas cracker he got when he was not much more than a pup and that he had (the remains of, at least) till the day he died, aged 14...that pair...squeaky toy?? Nae chance!! For the record, the fish got a wee extra bit of Christmas dinner too...they never get over fed, honest!
A few days later, and I realise just how much I have to be thankful for. Glancing through Facebook, I see a post from an old childhood friend saying how hard Christmas Day was and how heartbroken she's feeling, despite having got her Dad home for Christmas. That's when I realise they only just managed it, as he died a few days later. I just can't imagine what that family is going through...and to be honest, I don't want to. Roddy was always this larger than life character, so full of fun...such an integral part of life growing up in Coll each summer. For so many reasons, mainly health related, we haven't managed to get out to Coll for way too long, so we lost the closeness we once shared with the family, but oh, the memories... One positive is that Colin is now more determined than ever to find out what he's been missing...watch this space for Coll developments - he's mentally measuring up the house as I type, with a view to getting out there as soon as possible. I can't express what it'll mean to me to be back home...the best place in the world.
New Year was lovely too. Didn't start the best, with Colin attending his Great Uncle John's funeral on Hogmanay, but we had the unexpected bonus of everyone being together in Lismore for New Year. Ruairidh was the only one who missed the Bells...even Alasdair got up to party...and Ealasaid wasn't in bed till after 2am!
So, after all that...new year, new start? What are my intentions? No resolutions as such, just a renewed determination to make the most of every moment with my loved ones, to be so much more organised so that I have a better chance of doing so. Didn't manage to send a single Christmas card this year, so a good start could be writing a real, live letter to some of my closest friends (yes, Rhoda, you are top of that list). Might even remember to write a blog post or two. Not much to ask...is it?!
Bliadhna mhath ùr dhuibh uile. xx