"Sparkles" is an interesting challenge at this time of year. Of course it conjours up thoughts of Christmas but for so many people it seems that Christmas is either a difficult or sad time or at least a double edged sword, filled with so many hopes and yet so much tension.
Families are the basic unit of our society and as such they seem to me to be the thing that brings us our most meaningful experiences. Families can provide so much love and joy, and they can also hurt us and disappoint so deeply.
I find it hard myself to negotiate the expectations that Christmas will be a wonderful, joyous occasion. Here in Australia it is often stinking hot and eating a lot of rich food and alcohol is really not wise, yet we all still do it if we can - often going so far as to feast on the traditional northern hemisphere fare of roast turkey, baked ham followed by plum pudd. (for those of us with a British heritage, anyway).
This Christmas I will be remembering my father of course. The grief is not quite as raw this time around as last year when he had only been dead seven weeks, but it still packs a punch.
I am hopeful that this Christmas, while small and low-key will be more relaxed and enjoyable than recent ones. My brother and sister and their families are going away, so on Christmas Day I will be having my mother and my mother-in-law for lunch. We have air-conditioning and we will be having non-traditional food: smoked salmon, and berries for dessert. It will be a quiet affair, but I do think the mother's will enjoy it - they love to see each other.
On Boxing Day we will gather at my mother-in-law's for the full Christmas celebration with my brother-in-law's family which includes our four year old nephews - there will be nothing quiet about that day!
My entry in Artwords this week really captures my mood as I contemplate Christmas and the year past. I value the time taken to reflect - it helps to focus on the sunshine and allow the less attractive aspects of life to drift away to the horizon.