I’m sitting here waiting for video to import/be recognized from the iPad to the iMac. It’s taking a little time. Not sure why, but I’m assuming that it’s because it’s video, and I ought to be patient. This is not something at which I’m awfully good, being patient. Never have been, and once upon a silly time, when I was young and idealistic and not a little stupid, I prayed for patience. I thought the quality would be conferred like a gift, that I’d wake up one bright morning, suddenly and miraculously patient. Not a thing like it. My patience has been tried ever since. If I’m any less impatient than I was thirty years ago, it’s because experience has brought the understanding that not everything is as important as it thinks it is.
I’m writing this because Christmas Day is drawing to a close and it’s one of the oddest that I’ve spent in my life. It’s not the oddest—that distinction would go to Christmas 1992, which I spent with one cousin and one aunt in England, and which had its high points but which also was quite special enough for me to decide never to do it again. I say it’s odd because Christmas—this would be my fiftieth, now I come to think of it, now I look at photos taken of my first Christmas—has always been a time for our family to get together and just to hang out, just to be together. For the past 12 years, too, it’s been a double family experience; Philip and I have had two Christmas dinners to attend every year (except for that Christmas in 1992 when I was in Cambridge, marooned with my aunt and cousin). This Christmas, we’re down to one.
But it hasn’t been a bad one. It’s been quiet, and less active than normal, but the last two days have been oddly peaceful. I visited the graves and took plants—not flowers, but plants—to them. On my mother’s the poinsettia planted last year is still growing east of the bougainvillea we planted for my father and south of the rice fern we also planted for him. Those we planted as a family—Mummy, Eddie and me. The poinsettia was planted last Christmas, and on Mummy’s birthday this year we planted a flowering aloe plant, which is flourishing and will take over the eastern end of the grave. My mother shares the plot with my father and his family: with him, his sisters Ruth and Eunice, his brother Irvin, his mother, her mother, and presumably her father or grandfather too. It’s two graves side by side, one double, the other single, and there’s a clan of people within. This Christmas we planted a flowering croton and I have a jasmine plant for the new year. On my grandmother’s grave, which is far less populated, holding only my grandmother and grandfather and my uncle the bishop, we placed a palm. The lilies that were planted last year are still thriving, along with one of the crowns of thorns we placed there for their birthdays (the other died). That grave is concreted over, so we place plants in pots on it. The palm can cast a little shade, assuming the owners don’t come and collect it. We’ve got another for the eastern end of the grave for the new year.
In the garden, two of the orchids are putting out shoots, and one of them didn’t bloom last year. My vegetables are coming back well from the hurricane and the aftermath. The basil is thriving, in bushes easily four feet tall, the onions I put down a fortnight ago are happy, the new pepper plants are competing with one another, and one of the new cucumber plants has flowers on it already. The tomato plant is giving us cherry tomatoes, and the aloe plants are fattening up. The bromeliads and orchids I harvested from my parents’ garden are also growing, and I’m looking for flowers from them soon, and the roses we planted in honour of our mothers are budding again.
I love the quiet of this time, and I love the light, and I love the movement of the air. And so it’s been a quiet Christmas, and a different, new sort of Christmas, but I’m not complaining one bit.