Goodbye Christmas

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When the rain came crashing down on Christmas afternoon, gate crashing Christmas, we all scurried indoors taking with us the perishables, the things that could not stand a downpour, including the flowers that stood in a line in small bottles in the middle of the table.

We took in the last of the corn bread, the butter the open wine bottles the condiments but left out half empty wine glasses, the water pitchers, serviettes and the rest.

I visited my mother on Christmas day night and drove through more storms, scary in places where I had to slow down to sixty kilometres an hour in otherwise one hundred kilometre zones for fear of what might happen, but I got there, sobolened my mother’s legs and wished her a happy Christmas.

My mother was surprised that I had come thinking the storms would keep me away but I had been determined to get there after our Christmas day visitors, family and friends had gone.

I had done a basic clean up before I left to see my mother but could not get outside to do the outdoor table for the rain. I planned to leave it to the next day. But after I arrived home from my mother’s the rain had stopped, for a while at least, and I took out an empty tray determined to do as much as I could then and there.

I loaded the tray which I had set at one end of the table with glasses, a plate and a bowl, and the left over knives and forks. Before I took the tray inside I began to tip over the outdoor chairs which were filled with puddles and twigs and leaves and the like.

I did not see it coming. The chair closest to the head of the table had supported the tray on which I had placed all the glasses. I whipped it out and watched as the tray turned over and crashed onto the bricks.

It did not have far to fall but the result was spectacular, shattered glass spread over the bricks and into the flower beds nearby.

There was nothing to do for it, no one to whom I might complain. The rest of my tribe were sleeping, collapsed after Christmas festivities or out visiting friends, and so I cleaned it all up then and there. The dust pan soon became mud covered through the cracks between the bricks. Glass splinters everywhere.

It seemed a strange ending to Christmas and as I cleaned I wondered whether at the moment of the crash someone somewhere had died and someone somewhere else had been born. The crash had to mark something I thought. It could not be so random as to mean nothing.

This chook, a Christmas present from one daughter to my husband, looked on unblinking. It is made of metal and did not feel a thing.

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31 Comments on Goodbye Christmas

  1. Omgrrrl
    December 31, 2011 at 4:56 am (6 years ago)

    I had a friend once who said that the sound of glass shattering makes us all take note and pause.

    That is a pretty good thing, right?

    Reply
  2. Elizabeth
    December 31, 2011 at 5:04 am (6 years ago)

    I love that you assigned meaning, perhaps portent, perhaps augur to the crash. I just love that.

    Reply
  3. Windsmoke.
    December 31, 2011 at 5:05 am (6 years ago)

    Christmas Day was the worst ever for me because in our neck of the woods we had thunderstorms and hailstones the size of golf balls that broke the skylight in the dining room, water everywhere :-(.

    Reply
  4. Glenn Ingersoll
    December 31, 2011 at 6:13 am (6 years ago)

    Ouch.

    Here's to a new year – and new beginnings (those old beginnings have gone on too long).

    Reply
  5. Rubye Jack
    December 31, 2011 at 6:14 am (6 years ago)

    Reminds me of the butterfly effect of chaos theory. Who knows what ramifications the breaking of the glass has carried into yourself, those close to you, those of us who hear you and ponder the breaking glass and your visit through the storm to see your mother on Christmas Day night. Who knows?
    It has certainly made me think.
    And on that note Elizabeth, I hope you find happiness and health in this coming new year.

    Reply
  6. who
    December 31, 2011 at 8:33 am (6 years ago)

    I think I may understand, through personal experience, the experience you share here Elisabeth.

    And in regards to birth, life, and death (up to and including school and work in between the tween) after what has passed for confirmation in my mind's eye, ear, heart and soul to the point that the repeating identical scenario has wired itself to something like a ringing if it were summed up as one sound.

    So I silenced it, in order to move forward, since metadirectional movement is one-way

    and every step I take into the future and with the uncertainty being the thoughts I wonder, the wonder is whether an electron that jumps orbit is not really an, electrically speaking, physical death. And if the return is not really the birth of an, physically new, electron. As of the moment I am not wondering which spirits are returning because their is only one at that level of Celestial existence.

    But I do wonder about the physical world, because movement in that realm is also unidirectional (thank God it is in concentric cycles though)But that ringing noise leads me to believe that the only reason I am wondering is because I can't tell them apart.

    As far as words can convey, every single electron is indistiguishable

    So while it may sound racist, they're all the same to me, and for some reason,
    wondering

    Reply
  7. River
    December 31, 2011 at 10:52 am (6 years ago)

    I love that chook!
    Happy New Year Elisabeth.

    Reply
  8. PhilipH
    December 31, 2011 at 11:51 am (6 years ago)

    Storms Elisabeth! Storms? Don't talk to ME about storms!

    About 10 or 12 days ago we had some of the fiercest hurricane-like winds in Scotland. Howling and roaring through the trees as though the end of the world was upon us. It blew itself out after a couple of days and I said to my wife how lucky we'd been throughout. No damage, apart from trees nearby being uprooted – but most amazingly of all we did NOT lose our power supply! Not once did the lights go out. In earlier years we'd suffered power outages lasting almost a week, in the heavy snow periods.

    So, I was really thankful that this time we'd been lucky.

    But wait! Two days ago the storms began again. Wind and rain, like iron stair-rods. And at 7pm the lights went out!

    Complete blackness. Crowblack, bible-black, blind as moles were we, (courtesy in part Dylan Thomas from Under Milk Wood).

    We had an early night as Scottish Power said that owing to extensive damage to their network their engineers were having difficulty in assessing the problem. Next morning I fully expected to have an uncooked brekkie, but no! The power had been restored during the blitz-like night. Amazing good work.

    No, don't talk to me about storms Elisabeth. Here's wishing you a much happier new year!

    Reply
  9. Jim Murdoch
    December 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm (6 years ago)

    Meaning is something we assign things, we decide when an action or a happening is meaningful or not. Meaning is a name tag that we pin onto things that look down as we struggle with the safety pin thinking, Oh, so that’s what I am. Who would have thunk it? I, as you may have expected, had the quietest of Christmases if you discount the infestation of fruit flies although to be fair they were quiet. (Seriously, do these guys not know it’s winter?) The girl next door handed in a card and a box of biscuits as a thank you for catsitting during the year and that was nice but other than that it was business as usual or at least what has become usual for the last three weeks. I did write a little something, a memoir of sorts which ties in to the larger work I have kicking around my head. It was promoted by a photo I came across online, a picture of a young (I’m assuming) Russian girl—she has those sleepy Russian eyes—besides the photographer was a Russian. The thing is the girl is the spitting image of a girl I used to be friends with—scarily so—and I found that after seeing this image that it had obliterated any likeness I might have had in my mind of what this girl really looked like and that saddened me; memories are so frangible. It had the look of a colourised black and white photo—you know the kind of thing—and there’s something unnatural about them; they suggest how someone might have looked but there’s also something (I think) a little grotesque about them too, like make-up on a corpse. I started to think about my friend, when I had seen her last, when I had first met her and—and this is why I shy clear of attempting any kind of autobiographical writing—I found I couldn’t remember. I could remember fragments of seven times we were together: walking through a housing estate, sitting with her on my couch, visiting her while she was still living at her mum’s, hugging her in a funeral parlour, visiting her in hospital, running into her with my dad in this woman’s house and talking to her on her doorstep. Each memory is vague, more of an ache than anything else. The photo by the Russian photographer made me very sad, not that I needed any encouragement. I’m going to frame it. There’s a space on my wall in my office that’s needed something and this will be it.

    As I’m writing this it is Saturday morning, Hogmanay, listening to one of the most beautiful (and sad) soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. It’s by Alexandre Desplat and the film is called Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close; don’t let that put you off. You can hear the opening track here but it looks like someone’s uploaded the whole album. Give it a listen to. It’s quite lovely. I’ve been playing it over and over over the last couple of weeks.

    I’ll make lunch when I’ve finished typing this and then start cleaning and tidying; I’m not very messy but the place needs a good hoover and I’ll give the kitchen and bathroom a good going over. Carrie will phone in about five hours and an hour after that leave for the airport and about twenty-three hours after that she’ll be home. I don’t think she’ll go away over Christmas again. Or, if she does, not for a good few years.

    Reply
  10. jabblog
    December 31, 2011 at 1:52 pm (6 years ago)

    Such things happen almost in slow motion accompanied by a sense of disbelief. Love the chook:-)

    Wishing you and yours a Happy and Healthy 2012, Elisabeth.

    Reply
  11. Lolamouse
    December 31, 2011 at 4:48 pm (6 years ago)

    The sound of shattering glass is always startling. Our family heard it this season when our Christmas tree toppled over and several ornament shattered! My husband remarked that only ornaments that had his name on them shattered completely. He's feeling quite unsettled about the year to come. I certainly hope there's no meaning or omen to it!

    Reply
  12. Eryl
    December 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm (6 years ago)

    The whole world seems to be beset by storms. The other day we had such strong wind it blew out a pane in the back door. We've now patched it up with scrap wood but will have to call on a glazer to fix it properly.

    Your table looks beautiful and I love the chicken. Happy new year, Elizabeth.

    Reply
  13. The Weaver of Grass
    December 31, 2011 at 5:40 pm (6 years ago)

    A catalogue of disasters – put it down as an ending to 2011 and make a new beginning. A very happy 2012 to you all

    Reply
  14. Rose
    December 31, 2011 at 8:48 pm (6 years ago)

    Such a pity what a lovely table setting you had Elizabeth- I hope glasses were amongst the gifts you received this Christmas:D
    A handsome chook indeed!
    Best wishes to you for a happy and laid back new year elizabeth!

    Reply
  15. Anonymous
    January 1, 2012 at 8:38 am (6 years ago)

    I realise I'm a day late with my comment, Elisabeth.
    The shattering glass connecting to another universal happening resonates with me.
    Each time I have experienced the death of a loved one, it has always amazed me how peaceful and unaffected the world is around me.
    I feel as though something should be happening to alert everyone of such a cataclysmic event, yet people continue to walk past me in the street as though nothing has happened. Why?
    On the Christmas day storm front, I found myself sheltering with two 'dumb and dumber' dogs who seemed to have no idea that the tennis ball size hail stones were firing directly at them as they sat watching us inside. So I went out and sat with them under the only shelter at the back of the patio to keep them safe.
    A greater love hath no yada, yada, yada . . .
    HNY to you and yours.
    Karen C

    Reply
  16. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:06 am (6 years ago)

    There was no one but me to take note of the sound of shattering glass on Christmas day night, Omgrrrl, but still I took note, and as you say, that has to be a good thing.

    It's well past Christmas now, so happy New Year. And thanks.

    Reply
  17. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:08 am (6 years ago)

    I'm a devil for meaning, Elizabeth. I have to find it or else I can't settle.

    To me there's meaning in everything, meaning of sorts, however obscure.

    Thanks Elizabeth and happy New year.

    Reply
  18. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:11 am (6 years ago)

    We missed the dreaded hailstones, Windsmoke, but it sounds as though they were very bad.

    Here in Melbourne/Victoria Christmas day weather has since been officially declared a disaster. That says a lot about the degree of damage. I hope yours weren't too disastrous.

    Thanks Windsmoke, and may the new year prove better for you.

    Reply
  19. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:12 am (6 years ago)

    Beyond the ouch, I'm all for a better year, and as they say, Glenn, it's always darkest before the dawn. May it be so for us in 2012.

    Thanks, Glenn.

    Reply
  20. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:15 am (6 years ago)

    I'm already looking for happiness and health in the new year, but in recent days, Rubye Jack, I find I seem to drop things at an unprecedented rate.

    Christmas day night's glass shattering was only a beginning. I try to count back. Disasters travel in threes, or so they say, Hopefully I'm at the end of this series today.

    Thanks, Rubye Jack.

    Reply
  21. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:18 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks, Who. As ever I'm trying to decipher the meaning of your thoughts and comment.
    You offer so much and I want to do it justice but somehow I fall short.

    But as I said earlier, there is meaning in everything, it's just a matter of how we decipher it.

    Happy New Year, Dusty Who and I wish as many good things to you and yours as you offer to me and mine.

    Thanks again, Dusty Who.

    Reply
  22. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:21 am (6 years ago)

    I'm glad you like the chook, River. We certainly do. My husband carried that chook under his arm for the best part of Christmas day.

    Now it stands at the outside back window looking in. An icon of Australia.

    Thanks, River.

    Reply
  23. Elisabeth
    January 1, 2012 at 10:25 am (6 years ago)

    Well, as you say, there are storms and there are storms, Philip. I don't suppose we can ever compare a Scottish storm to an Australian one, especially when ours start in the middle of a heat wave, while yours occur during the cold of winter: 'Crowblack, bible-black, blind as moles were we'. Thanks Dylan.

    I'm glad you at least managed a cooked breakfast the next day.

    Happy New Year. And did you try haggis on the new year's eve? I've not yet tried it, but it sounds amazing.

    Thanks, Philip.

    Reply
  24. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:23 am (6 years ago)

    Back to christmas in this delayed response, Jim and moving onto the New Year. I gather Carrie's home at last and your isolation is at an end. This music is stunning . I can see how it might soothe you. It soothes me.

    You describe so many memories about your Russian-like friend from the past, Jim. That's enough for me. It matters little if the details are imagined. As you say, memory is so frangible. What a terrific word. most of life is frangible when it comes to it.

    I've been doing this massive spring clean. No excuse not to this year, having handed in my thesis. And I find all these relics from the past. Old children's drawings from the days when our girls really enjoyed their parents enough to write declarations of love alongside colorful drawings of their family.

    It's helping a little to shift me out of my grumpy mood over Christmas and the new year.

    I shall continue this comment on my next post, now that we are into day two of the new year.

    Thanks, Jim.

    Reply
  25. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:25 am (6 years ago)

    Another one who loves our chook, Janice. He/she/it sits on the window ledge where he/she/it will remain for years to come, I imagine, and become part of our remembered lives, unless something untoward happens.

    Happy New Year to you too, Janice, and thanks.

    Reply
  26. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:27 am (6 years ago)

    Oh dear Lolamouse, a toppled Christmas tree, that must have been awfil and for your husband to lose some of his beloved ornaments, even worse.

    I hope it wasn't an omen and that things have improved for you all since then.

    Happy New year, Lolamouse.

    Reply
  27. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:33 am (6 years ago)

    Most of the flowers that beset our Christmas table are still with us, Eryl. My daughter has the knack for choosing long lasting flowers. They are the last signs of Christmas in this house though.

    I took the tree down yesterday for fear that it might dry out. Even an olive tree needs some sun. And now we have too much sun.

    Sweltering days since the cool change of Christmas day storms. Forty one degrees centigrade, one hundred degrees plus in the old currency and it only gets hotter, for a time at least.

    As long as the bush fires hold off and while I'm not having to work, I love it, Eryl. But it's hard on those who cannot stay out of it.

    Happy New Year to you.

    Reply
  28. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:35 am (6 years ago)

    I'm hoping for a much better 2012, Pat, and so far, despite the extremely hot weather, it seems okay enough.

    How is it for you? I wonder, with the opposite extremes, the cold setting in. Not too bad I trust.

    Happy New Year, Pat.

    Reply
  29. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:39 am (6 years ago)

    The glasses were not gifts, Rose. I assume you mean this, that the new ones my husband received were not on the table and therefore remain unbroken.

    No, the glasses that broke were not precious ones and their breakage gives me permission to go out in time to buy a new lot of inexpensive and serviceable glasses for occasions such as this.

    I don't have much by way of expensive glass ware, Rose and I certainly wouldn't use it outside if I did. So the damage done was mostly of the humiliation variety, not too much actual damage, value wise. Thanks for your commiserations, though.

    Happy New Year, Rose.

    Reply
  30. Elisabeth
    January 2, 2012 at 8:49 am (6 years ago)

    You probably know that wonderful poem, that grew more popularly famous after the film Four Weddings and a Funeral , WH Auden's 'Stop all the clocks…'

    I think of it now when I read your comment about the hesitation we feel when a loved one dies. Why doesn't the world not recognise the loss.

    I did not feel this quite so intensely when the tray crashed to the ground but I have felt it at times of trauma.

    Thanks Karen, and Happy New Year.

    Reply
  31. Syd
    January 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm (6 years ago)

    At times like that, I wonder at my stupidity and clumsiness. I have done similar things. I seldom laugh at those moments. But later I will shake my head and remember to do one thing at a time.

    Reply

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