Christmas is such a mixed time of year. For us, it will be like no other. This festive season seems to be marked for us, by a gentle movement from butterflies to robins (I still receive messages of butterflies in people’s homes- always a Red Admiral). They say Robins, like butterflies, are symbolic of angels. Whatever one might see in these symbols, it always warms me to see their little red chests and watch them quietly as they fly from branch to stone, to fence post, getting just a little closer to me each time. I remember my grandad and grandma Wilton had a Robin that visited their Yorkshire garden. Grandad had befriended it so well that the robin used to land on the cap on his head, to peck away gladly at some bread crumbs. Today I saw two robins at the same time as I walked with Cilly along a beautiful lakeside walk near Barry’s home. It was a frosty, clear and bright day. Barry had gone back to get Oisin to give him some fresh air and to take in the beautiful day. Niall and Izzy joined us with their children, Tom and Teddy, Oisin and Cilly’s cousins.
Christmas eve was filled with last minute shopping for the kids and God mother, Yvonne’s charity fund raiser Christmas party at Jungle Den in Naas, Co. Kildare. The staff had given up their day’s wages to support the event. We went along and enjoyed catching up with some of our Naas friends. Yvonne was in full throttle, giving it her all as Mrs Claus. Cilly was still singing all the Christmas songs in bed that night after a sing song session with Yvonne and a bunch of kids, who were all eager to perform their favourite song. Oisin stayed downstairs, fully determined to get all around the jungle den play area. Sure enough he did. Here is the good news from Yvonne on how much was raised so far and where to donate……
“Ho, ho, ho and thank you to the 61 children and their parents and grandparents who joined us in the Jungle Den this morning and helped raise €690.03 at the door for the Irish Cancer Society, Enable Ireland Bray and LauraLynn Hospice (310 online). There is still time to donate on link below please. Thank you especially to the staff of Jungle Den who gave their time, energy and hard work for free so that the money could all go to charity. Now THAT is the Christmas spirit alive and well. May the force be with you!”
We’ve enjoyed the company of Barry’s brother and sister-in law for near a week now. They are over from England, where they live with their two boys. The cousins have played together out on the farm and around the house. Having plenty of children around on Christmas day has added that extra sprinkling of magic for the family here. It has given us a focus and a reason to stay strong and joyful as we watched them all open their presents. By the end of Christmas day Oisin had near doubled his cars collection, race car launchers, stunts and race tracks. All in all he was very happy with himself. Cilly was equally as delighted by his Mickey mouse club house, farm set and yoga DVD! Thank you everyone who got the boys Christmas presents and sent cards and messages. Needless to say we are still working our way through them (as much as the adults are working their way through chocolates).
As is Boland tradition, we went to mass on Christmas day. For various reasons I find Chrsitmas day mass tough. Though my profession, I know many people are struggling through Christmas. Well this year we too have to struggle through Christmas. I don’t wish for it to be over with. I don’t particularly feel any pressure to slap on a smile. We are so grateful to have made it to Christmas with Oisin. He can still talk and show his humour. He can still play with his toys. But Christmas does intensify the pain of our journey. We know this will almost certainly be our last with Oisin. On Christmas Eve, Msgnr. Wilson phoned us to kindly invite Oisin to light the Christmas candle in mass. My Christmas eve was spent in deep pain, as I wondered how I would bare the next day being so full of “lasts.” The last Christmas with my beautiful boy, the last Christmas mass with him, the last time we see him open his gifts with Cillly….it makes for a difficult read, I know. Still, I’m not here to paint it any other way. I hope it gives strength to others to say that this pain is okay. It is here and I have found it is important to keep a space and a tenderness towards this pain so deep in my heart. So on Christmas Eve I stayed at home whilst the family went to the traditional Great Granny Boland’s Christmas Eve Party (still hosting at 96 years of age, inspirational granny.) It strengthened me so much to make that time for myself to be sad. Come Christmas day we were all able to enjoy the children delighting in their presents, pull crackers, read the bad jokes and be fully present as Oisin was carried by his daddy to light the last candle of Christmas.
As today came to a close we had a visit from Marion and Maire, our relations. Marion had come home from Australia for Christmas. What a blessing it is that she got to see Oisin.
One final story to bring us back to angels – a friend of Joan’s put some money into a charity donations box.The volunteer who took her donation offered her a small token of thanks, a little badge. Joan’s friend took the badge without much thought and carried on with her shopping. When she got home that day she came across the badge. There in the palm of her hand was a badge of an angel. The angel had a name – “Oisin – A warrior with no fear.”