Sunday, 30 December 2012

'Tis the season...

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I wish a Happy New Year to all my readers!
   I apologise for being awfully absent from blogging, but I'm sure you've all been busy over the holidays and will forgive my tardiness.
   This year's Christmas, like last year's, was very different from all the rest we have had as a family. Last year was the first Christmas without Mum and Aubrey. Mum had recently passed away so her absence was felt constantly, and Aubrey was on a Caribbean cruise with Sara for their honeymoon. We tried to enjoy ourselves, but the stress of preparations along with emotional battles made us exhausted, feeling that we were 'going through the motions'. We did our best.
   This year was the first Christmas that Aubrey and his wife Sara celebrated with us, Shanae has also moved home for a bit so once again we had 5 Boyns' round the table for Christmas, it was rather lovely. As Father Christmas has an awfully busy schedule, us 'childer' have had to accept that he no longer visits us, giving younger ones the magical experience we had in our childhood, and so the tradition of opening a sack full of presents in the wee hours of Christmas morning have somewhat changed. The weeks leading up to the big day, I spent sorting boxes all over the house and cleaning, rearranging so we have a bit more order and space. We bought our tree in the traditional Boyns' fashion - promptly on the 23rd December, and spent the next day finishing off decorations, whilst also rearranging the living room furniture on Christmas Eve!
   We woke up Christmas Morning, had breakfast - sponsored by Capain' Crunch and Lucky Charms - got ready and went up the village to place a Christmas heart wreath on Mum's grave. We saw a few other people in the yard as well, remembering their loved ones on such a pivotal family holiday. It was nice to spend a few moments remembering how things used to be, and thinking how strange it is to be able to carry on after such a significant part of us is gone.
   The rest of the day was spent enjoying cooking Christmas dinner together, watching the Queen's Speech, listening to Dad's speech, and opening gifts from each other in the evening. On Boxing Day we had our first visit from 'extended family' that being Sara's parents and her sister, and we enjoyed a second Christmas Dinner with even more people crammed into our little dining room. Our Christmases always involve scrounging to find spare chairs, hearing bad jokes and having wrapping-paper-ball fights, and I'm jolly glad they do.
   I felt this year for the first time that I really can make the holiday special, by simply playing my part. Parents know they have important roles to play in getting their children's wish lists to Santa [amongst other things], and grandparents know they can spoil their grandchildren as much as they like because - it's Christmas. Older siblings' roles are to be a united front in making sure the parents aren't driven crazy by too many little jobs, as well as keeping a flow of laughter circulating the house. The little children are there to remind us of the magic surrounding these holidays, the feeling that whatever you wish for can come true, that there is a man in the sky who will bring us the things we need, and that no matter what happens for the rest of the year Christmas will always mean family, hope, joy and lots of cake.

Friday, 14 December 2012


   These past few weeks of being home after America and my Birthday have been such a roller coaster. I miss friends in America and Scotland and even those that are closer but haven't yet been able to see. I have renewed some old friendships and made new ones too, and I'm forever grateful for the opportunities God gives me in that. But I find that adjusting to the way Dad does things in the house is a task in itself, and learning how to live together again is a work in progress. Sorting things in the house is a mission, not one I relish in but one that needs done, and eventually maybe we'll get the place looking like Christmastime. 
   Often I wish I had been the one to go, and not Mum. I think she would know what things were and where they were meant to go, what needs kept, who to send Christmas cards to and maybe even know their addresses by heart. In dark times I wonder who I can pour my heart to, who will encourage me, who will tell me everything will be OK, because that used to be Mum. Now, I have close friends, and you. I write words and shoot them out into cyberspace and you read them. I hope they make you think, I pray they are useful to you as they are to me writing them.
   A few of my friends have started blogs recently, Cassidy (infamous on here by now) put this poem on her blog a few days ago and checking up on her posts tonight I read it and felt as though Rudyard was talking to me. 
   I know I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me but it helps to have friends supporting me too, so thank you.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
’ Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you’ll be a Man, my son!
                                                        — Rudyard Kipling

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Hold on when you feel like letting go.

   A passage I have always loved is "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep," but what happens when people do those things at the same time?

   When Mum passed away, we did not mourn as others mourned. We had Faith that she was not gone, she just relocated, and we will see her again. Our anticipatory grieving had our hearts and minds unravelling for years, but we rejoiced in our hope and in knowing she was no longer suffering. Confusion was particularly prominent the weeks surrounding her death. Last year Dad, Shanae and I celebrated Christmas. We already knew it was going to be different last year with Aubrey and Sara being away on their honeymoon, but without Mum as well, it was quite an awful occasion. We went through the motions, and I clung to our childhood traditions, trying to clasp an essence of festive normality.
   I am reminded of Mum's absence every day and special occasions are times when we would all definitely be together. So whilst preparing for our annual get together, as well as rejoicing with those who rejoice at this time, we will mourn with others who mourn. Like every day, it will be hard. Because I now understand this more, I am aware of others close to me who are struggling this month, and would like to make you aware of them also to keep them in thoughts and prayers.
   One of my school friends passed away recently, and I am reminded of another school friend who's brother was found drowned in a river about two years ago.
   We have family friends are going through tough times with the Mother having been diagnosed with terminal cancer in the summer.
   Other friends have just had twins, both in and out of ICU at just a month old today, whilst also caring for their other two children at home.
   Another of my friends feels she can't celebrate Christmas this year, it wouldn't feel right without her Grandfather around; whilst another friend's family will try and celebrate Christmas even though their Mother decided to leave them a few months ago.
   A guy I know is having to face the possibility of getting a prosthetic foot for Christmas this year, he's in constant agonising pain with it but uses his situation to encourage others around him in hospital. A true fighter.
   I read an article about a couple who know their baby is going to die soon after the birth at Christmas. They will have spent just over 9 months with their daughter, the majority of it without seeing what she looks like.
   These are just a few of the situations I am aware of, there are several more I haven't mentioned, including things on the news, and I know you know hundreds more. Whilst some may wish to forget their troubles and anxieties at Christmas time others can not, and must soldier on, knowing they won't have a normal, happy Christmas this year - and maybe not ever again.

   Santa's Grottos, bright lights, red hats and rosy smiling faces, the Christmas hustle and bustle is something which can not easily be escaped for those who may wish to dodge it this year. For those worrying about things other than matching Christmas crackers, well-wrapped gifts, uneven window lights and misspelled greetings cards, my heart goes out to you. I pray that you find a peace in the chaos of the season, I hope you find a joy in today just like any other day and I wish you all the best in whatever you find yourself doing this month.

If you are wanting to do something to help those perhaps not looking forward to the holiday season because they aren't able to celebrate, Shelter and Operation Christmas Child are two great charities which you can look into and maybe even help them along in their quest to spread the love.

Monday, 3 December 2012

More than words.

"Saying I love you is not the words I want to hear from you. It's not that I want you not to say, but if you only knew how easy it would be to show me how you feel, more than words is all you have to do to make it real; then you wouldn't have to say that you love me 'cause I'd already know." [v1. to 'More Than Words' by Extreme]

   As humans we are forgetful people with low self esteem, we need constant reminders of others approval towards us through 'likes', 'retweets', a constant flow of human interaction, physical proof of our accomplishments or material goods to remind us of our success. It sometimes seems that no matter how much we know or have we need more, and we need reminders of it. The same can often be applied to relationships, even if we've heard 'I love you' from someone before we need to hear it again - just in case it's the last time you get to hear it, or to check that they still do love you. If someone offers their hand 'if there is ever a need', there is often hesitation in taking them up on it - even when you know you would do the same and more vice versa. We are a forgetful and distrusting people. I'm not going to tell you to say sweet somethings to at least 10 people today, rather, don't overuse phrases like 'I love you' or 'I'm sorry'. Yes, use them abundantly but when you do - make sure mean, and show it, afterwards."Let your yes be yes and your no be no." Don't cry wolf, be sincere.

   We wouldn't need verbal reminders if our actions displayed these sentiments truly.

   As Christians we say we live by faith, not by sight. We say we love our neighbour as ourselves. Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last is the only way to achieve true Joy...
   We may say we live by faith but we overly worry about situations, waiting for outcomes or hints of the answers we want to the prayers we offer up to Him. We say we understand the concept of loving our neighbour but we talk about each other in spiteful tones behind each other's backs and segregate ourselves, we forget that we can still Love someone with opinions different to ours. We know how to have J.O.Y., but we want things now, we want things fast, and we get frustrated at others' sufferings or poorer abilities than ours hindering us. We forget the fruits Jesus told us about, of patience, kindness, generosity and self control.

   On a bitter sweet note, one thing I cannot stand is insincerity; When Mum died people would say 'I'm sorry for your loss' and I often wondered what they meant, really. I don't doubt that most people really were sorry that we would no longer have Mum with us - every day, those who knew her know just how much was taken. They were perhaps sorry that we would not have her by our side for family occasions and the other 'big' events. But I did wonder what some people meant by it, if they merely uttered the phrase because they thought it was the right thing to do. And that can be Ok, I get the sentiment of wanting to say the right thing in a can-be-awkward situation but for me I sometimes saw it as fake in a time calling for utmost humility. Death is a part of life, it's the one thing we can all count on inevitably, so why should we have such a problem with accepting and talking about it? [Pretty much the whole reason for my book.]

   So why do we say things and not live by them? Tell people we love them but forget to show them love. If only we didn't have the choice to go back on our word. If only we understood that we really don't have that choice if we are to be honourable, to live and Love like Him.