Monthly Archives: December 2012

My final blog about Christmas

In amongst the hustle and bustle of the Christmas

It is easy to forget. Our focus is on giving.

Christmas s for giving true, however the greatest gift

That we can ever receive was bestowed upon us before we were born.

Christmas is a celebration of life and family.

After all the consumption and the celebration

A kind of emptiness can occur. The hype is gone,

The bustle subsides, we return to our everyday lives.

It is at this time that these words remind me

of the true meaning of Christmas.

It is these words that I give to you .

When all else falls away, Faith, Hope and Love (Charity) , abide.

 These three things stand firm in the face of all.

Love above all else. 

My wish for you is a truly joyous and blessed Christmas

And a New Year that is full of Faith, Hope and Love.

And they call it the lucky country!

Lateral Love

Copy of a Letter to the Editor 21 November 2012 sent to Koori Mail; The Advertiser; The Australian

George Kenmore
PO Box 280
ALDGATE SA 5154

Phone: 0438 399 012

November 21 2012

Sir,
Let me take you on a journey… A large number of your relatives live in community on their own property and you pay them a visit. The following scenes play out before your very eyes. I wonder what you would do ….

> a young disabled cousin (who has a dedicated carer) has indicated that she needs assistance with being helped out of her wheelchair. You carefully lift her and assist her to become comfortable; at the same time you become aware of maggots on your arms from where you have lifted her and then notice maggots on the seat of her wheelchair.

> An elderly diabetic uncle is lying ill on the ground and as…

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Life goes on even when things change.

Things change.  One never knows what life will bring, and the message I guess is to make the most of it whilst you have breath.  That does not deny the painfulness and hurt that we encounter in our lives and often change is narrated by pain and hurt. I had an enjoyable Christmas Eve experience when my 4 youngest and I sat on our stoop.  We sung a few carols and then the older two sang for a while.   This morning we gathered around the tree and exchanged gifts.  These were well received. Pancakes for breakfast and then I delivered them to their mum…  I am happy for them to go for sure but in the emptiness of the house my mind and heart reflected back.  Not to better days at all as it has been a long time since I had a memorable Christmas.  Lunch consisted of a ham sandwich potato crisps and a glass of southern comfort and mixer.  I reflected back to unmet expectations.  It is these expectations that I have the most trouble with in my life.  I have blogged about my sense of urgency that often drives me. I know where it comes from

It is this sense of urgency that drives me to seek what I might call normalcy, I love spending time with my children but when you live in a world inhabited by couples you feel very excluded as a single person.  I am single by choice right now.  I have options, whilst that sense of urgency drives me to look for that person in my life the self protection mechanism of my head is guarding against being hurt again.  I may be indulging in self prophecy sometimes and putting barriers up but it is very real in my life. 

As I spent my afternoon by myself I was surrounded by the sounds of festivity, children laughing, games being played, adults conversing, for some such sounds may be torture for me they were a timely reminder that life carries on regardless and I can be a participant or a passenger it is up to me.  I also need to remind myself about what I do have not that which I don’t.  When I wake up in the morning it is to my children (not always a welcome blessing) there are many people who would give all they have to wake up to that . So whilst I may mourn for that which is lost, I celebrate for that which is real in my life.  It still does not stop me from shedding tears on occasion and avoiding social situations that feature couples but for my children’s sake I will continue to engage. 

Paul

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all. Not very likely!

Santa brought the following present last night to a beautiful young woman.

Fractured skull, broken ankle abrasions and a lot of trauma.  Her crime was to do her job as part of New Zealand’s thin blue front line.  The sad part is that she was doing her job to protect a mother and child.   This Christmas like many others violence will be a feature of the celebrations, mostly linked to alcohol.  Please note that I say linked to alcohol not caused by alcohol.  The cause of violence is absolutely linked to an unregenerate mind.  There are many contributing factors for sure, past trauma of the abusers, societal stress, poor role models, poverty, ill health, mental illness.  The list is extensive really.  We can wring our hands and tut tut as much as we like but  here is the conundrum.  Unless you are part of the solution you are part of the problem.

We need to become a society that abhors violence and does not tolerate it in any manner or form.  What can you do I here you say.   Well there are a number of things you can do.   Violence does not live in a sealed vacuum environment.  Most of the time when a child is killed someone somewhere knew what was going on.  Yes there are random acts of violence for sure but most violence occurs within relationships.

How do we combat this? Well we call it  for what it is.  We talk about it, we ask the hard questions bout those unexplained bruises.  When we hear people fighting we call the police, When we suspect that all is not well with a child we call Child protection agencies and share our concerns.  We can also reach out and befriend people and become a safe place for them to share.  We ensure that we teach our children, nephews, nieces, grand children etc that violence is not ok.  We hold the perpetrators accountable.

Holding perpetrators accountable is a much wider scoped concept that includes looking at the societal perpetrators as well as the individuals.  In my opinion if we as individuals know that violence is occurring within a relationship or to a child and we do nothing about it then I consider that we are perpetrators.  This includes mothers fathers grand parents aunts uncles etc.   If we stay in a relationship that is violent, allow our children to be assaulted then we need to be held accountable as well.

At a political level we need our leaders  to model behaviour that is acceptable and respectful.  Watch the zoo we call parliament.  It is a disgusting debacle and the behaviour is a pervasive cancer that invades our society from the top down.  There is nothing wrong with vigorous debate but what happens in parliament is well beyond that.  I encourage you to hold your representatives responsible for their behaviour and for their decisions.  Violence is institutionalised in New Zealand and the use of power is a huge way that it is perpetuated.

This abuse of power I have blogged about in the past we call it bullying but it is violence.  We need to be active in calling our representatives to account for their behaviour we need to stop tolerating it in our workplaces, schools anywhere really.  We need to become a nation of dobbers in some way, if we cannot confront the violence ourselves then we need to call someone who can.  We need to ensure that our representatives enable our services to deal with violence as well.  A fundamental rethink of how we view it is absolutely necessary.

This Christmas give the gift of life, take a moment to care or support someone somewhere who is working against violence.  If you know of someone being affected by violence then speak up or out about it.  And spare a thought for those whose everyday work is picking up the pieces and putting their lives at risk to keep us all safe from violence.

Take care everyone

Arohanui

Paul

Christmas is for Children

I  have decided that Christmas is for Children.  There is a feverish kind of anticipation and my two youngest are making preparations for Christmas.  On very limited budgets they are out there seeking that right gift.  I watch them as they pour there hearts into the gifts they have chosen and embellish them. Wrapping and worrying have they bought enough.  I remind them that it is the thought that counts.  I need to do that because the constant narrative that surrounds them is bigger better, shiny and brash.  They look at our neighbors new swimming pool and comment boy they must be rich.  I tell them that material things don’t make you rich

This year Chistmas is not a burden financially, enough money to buy gifts and food and a little left.  Nothing extravagant and I realise that I am blessed.  I listen to the news about people lining up for food parcels, bigger, longer lines.  Reflection of a harshness that has crept into our society.  At times I hanker for a simpler life but I remember the hard times.  I remember one Christmas going to the supermarket and filling my trolley with groceries,mainly basics, certainly no alcohol.  It had been a hard year with illness and unemployment and I waltzed up to the checkout and signed a check knowing that the bank would never honour that.  I remember the amount two hundred and twenty dollars and change.  You see we had no money left, I can’t remember why and the only  alternative was a foodbank and I remembered going once before,

I remembered the sense of shame as I was ushered into the little office and the questioning of why we had no money or food.I remember the small box of food and particularly the small containers of UHT milk.  Here we were in the land of milk and honey and the only milk we could get was tiny little capsules of long life milk that my kids would not drink because they tasted funny.  I think I sold something to buy some milk so I wrote the chequ and justified by saying this was a multinational company and that I would pay them back it was just a loan.

I remember the sheer relief when the cheque was accepted at the check out and I hurried to the car with my huge trolley of groceries, this is some 15 years ago now and two hundred dollars of groceries was a big amount back then.  I kept hoping for a miracle but sure enough the bank bounced the check and I got a letter demanding payment.  Long story short I fronted and rang the supermarket and the Woman was nice and said should we represent the cheque and I told her the truth.  The funny thing was the warmth and human kindness of her words that day were far more christian than the words I got at the foodbank run by a church known for their acts of charity.  I was treated like a criminal at the foodbank made to show id and cross referenced to make sure I was not asking for food at any other foodbanks.

The woman simply said that she understood, could I pay the amount off?  We agreed a payment plan.  Twenty dollars a week and she deferred it for a couple of weeks to get us past the start of school.  I paid the amount and I remember the relief as I paid the last installment.

Christmas is for children.  I try to protect my children form the harshness of life and most of the time I succeed, we have had a few lean weeks this year as we coped with unexpected expenses and one particular week i couldn’t give my children their allowance, I told them and they were really great about it.  They are great kids who often don’t ask for things they need as they worry about money.  They are however quite privileged  they have never gone hungry or been cold or in pain because of a lack of money and whilst I have breath in my body they never will.  If I had to beg in the streets they would get what they need.

Christmas is for children.  My Christmas this year as was the last is a solo affair in that my bed is empty apart from myself and there are some days when that is more poignant than others but I will rise early on Christmas day ans we will exchange presents and have pancakes for breakfast.  I may even go to church I certainly will on Christmas Eve.  I will laugh and smile and enjoy what I can because Christmas is for children.  I will remember those who through death are alone at Christmas and say a prayer for them, not much comfort in that I know but I try through my every day life to bring comfort and compassion where I can.  Sometimes unfortunately I am the perpetrator of that pain.

The thing is life is not fair or perfect sometimes life just sucks.  Christmas will be a mix of pain and pleasure for me this year.   A familiar place for me and unfortunately many others.  A few words I wrote are on this link.

http://softlyfallingpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/pain-and-pleasure/

With Love for all those who feel that pain

Arohanui Paul

Pain and Pleasure

Pain and pleasure

Like conjoint twins

Codependent, symbiotic ,epiphytic

Winding, entwining, tangling.

Never seen without each other,

terrible twosome.

Pain and pleasure..

Christmas part two

Well here it is the conundrum of the writer, One of the things that makes writing great to read is reality, sometimes it is too real and maybe my last post was too real, Arohamai for that I briefly considered pulling it, perhaps it is self indulgent wallow but my intent I guess is purely this.  By all means reach out this Christmas and offer the hand of friendship but at the same time try to remember to offer tat same hand during the year as well.

I had a great role model for that, my mum exemplified that hand of friendship, As I enjoyed a piece of Christmas cake with my sister it took me back  to happier times.  This will be the 20th Christmas without my mum this year, she died way too young at 53, she was the glue that held our Christmas together and part of that glue was the food and the gathering and preparation of that food.  I wrote  a piece about that last year and if you follow the link you can read it in its entirety.   Whilst my last blog was short on hope and redemption I just wanted to acknowledge that it can be a terrible time for people.

I want to however say that it is possible to rewrite our lives and that I am constantly astounded by the resilience that I see in people all around me.  That resilience is a matter of choice and I really want to acknowledge that. So whilst I have put my heart on my sleeve in my previous post my hope is that it will bear some fruit.   Acknowledging and normalising that Christmas can be pretty dismal for some people is indeed a part of that. So my challenge is this.  A random act of kindness today somewhere some how make someones day.  I am getting on with my day and I am going to do just that.  I shall do some baking to drop a little bit of kindness somewhere.

Christmas Past

Christmas, was always a large occasion with family, friends and anyone else who was at a loose end.  The exact mix of who was coming depended on who was speaking to whom.  Warfare was open on my mother’s side, she was one of 15 and family occasions had been known to be attended by the riot squad (never at our house).     Nobody was turned away; Christmas was a time for sharing.  Mum was the glue that held the family together and she loved Christmas.  She was a peacemaker and was always attempting to be the bridge when division within her family occurred.  Christmas was one of those occasions that she specialised in,  and lord help you if you got an invite to Christmas dinner from Mum and didn’t turn up.  She was a force to be reckoned with.

Our household was an average working-class home with always enough, but only just.  My parents were expert at living affordably, from the large vegetable garden, through to the whole sheep that were brought home from the butcher and cut up into manageable pieces.   Dad worked shifts in the Dairy industry and often long hours so from about 11 I took on many jobs on that he would have done.  My Mum was often unwell and my older sister took her burden. With six children ours was a busy household, always on the financial margins so we always were trying to live a good life as economically as possible.  Many things in our house were made by us and not bought.

The countdown to Christmas was marked by the making of the cake.   Mum would prepare the cake about eight weeks out.   I always wondered about how we could eat the cake without becoming intoxicated because there seemed to be a lot of alcohol that went into it, according to the empty bottle.  As I grew older I realised why Mum seemed to be so happy by the time the cake came out of the oven!  Cake baking day was often a little raucous in our house…  Continue reading