Kick back, relax, Christmas is over.
After Christmas is over there is a short period where I can relax and recover from that chaotic run-up to Christmas that happens every year. There is always far too much to do in December and I wore myself once more. As usual I accepted too many party invitations but probably enjoyed them less than usual. This year being invited to a so called party meant paying your own way at the designated venue, usually a restaurant or Club, then in my case trying to find things I could eat with no dairy or unidentified oils because of my bad reaction to Palm oil. So I had lots of salads with the first course and fruit salad for the second. Very little joyful celebration this year with bad news coming in daily from the bushfires ravaged inland towns there seemed little to celebrate.
I did slip in a one week visit the first week in December to Trev in Broken Hill. It was a good week, we had smoke from the bushfires here but out in Broken Hill it was hot and dusty but not smoky and I felt better than I had for a while. Because of the trauma 30 years ago from the viral pneumonia I have damage at the bottom of my right lung so can get short of breath. The smoky air seemed low on oxygen and so being away from the coast was a bonus. I left a bag full of purchases with Trevor as one of the local stores had a closing down sale and I found a lot of curtains, linens etc at bargain prices which Trevor will bring with him when he comes for a visit with Alice in January.
Broken Hill is a broken town in many ways. I guess you don't think when you buy those items on eBay or Amazon that you are taking purchasing power away from your local community, so a tourist like me can make a difference. The new type of older tourist couples with the big new caravans unfortunately no longer bring in the income to small towns that the old fashioned ones did. Now tourists only go into the major supermarkets to buy goods not into the little owner operated stores, so smaller towns are losing trade to the larger towns. It is such a shame. What can a small town do but reduce shopping hours and in many cases local run stores close down.
Someone staying locally as I do has time to browse around and spend on locally produced goods. For instance I go into the Sufi shop to buy curry powders, or Ferries Haberdashery to buy odds and ends, a crochet hook, wool, cottons, all kinds of small gifts. I stop and chat and just enjoy being there. Trevor is struggling now he has only his cleaning job so I do some extra shopping for him while I am there. And there is the joy of the Tip Shop, the old shed converted into a second hand shop that is used to raise money to keep the suicide counseling phone service Lifeline going. The suicide rate particularly among men in our inland towns has risen dramatically with the drought and now the bushfires devastating our agricultural lands beyond the ranges are a bigger worry.
Our Lions Christmas raffle this year will bring in very little money. We get our spot at the shopping centre at management's discretion and were placed near one of the side doors where there was little through traffic and as a result sales were minimal. We will make a profit from Christmas cake sales as our cakes are good value and many people told us although they had trouble finding us they do not like to go without a Lion's Christmas cake. I did twelve half days on sales and struggled to find time for everything else I had to do. But in a way that is a basic part of my pre-Christmas run-up. I have been selling tickets in a succession of raffles for Lions since Ray joined the Club in 1984.
As usual I went to church at 6pm Christmas Eve and 8.30am Christmas Day. The evening service was as in previous years just hilarious. The church secretary's sons had a succession of roles in the Nativity play and their mother stood at the back of of the church ready to turn the three shepherds into angels and turn angels into kings as we sang carol after carol. I don't go to the 9pm service but am ready to go at 8.30am. it is a good way for me now to start my Christmas morning before plunging into last minute preparations for Christmas lunch which was at my house this year, the first time for five years.
It was lovely to have five out of six grandchildren with me and Craig and Shirley and Pam. Unfortunately Steve and his new partner Alison never join us for Christmas. My eldest grand daughter Tori helped me set up the spare table and the three older ones sat there and talked and laughed together. I so miss Ray when I see them like that and think how much he has missed out on seeing them grow up. The family members do not talk of Ray now and I wonder how much they remember him. The older two grandchildren do remeber him and hopefully remind the younger ones. I notice Oliver who was only five when Ray died goes over and pats the arm of the chair Ray used to sit in so that comforts me.
Christmas time is such a mixed blessing but I am glad at least some of our family can get together for a while and build new memories together. I then have hope and courage for the months ahead. My life is lonely at times but it is doable. Have a happy New Year everyone, hope it is one of our best!