We get together for breakfast a few weeks before Christmas. But we don’t get together because we want to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Christmas may be a difficult time of year for some of us.
We come from various suburbs and we are from very different backgrounds. We have very different jobs and interests. We are very different people.
Our political ideas might differ vastly or be very similar, but we don’t talk politics. Our hobbies are also entirely different. Some of us are elderly, some of us may be in poor health, and some of us are middle-aged and relatively healthy. Some of us are men, some of us are women. Some of us are survivors ourselves.
Some of us write poetry. Some of us would not dream of putting a few words to paper. Some of us read a lot, but others don’t. Some of us love listening to music all day, while some of us would prefer total, absolute silence all day, every day. Some of us grow flowers; some of us cannot be bothered.
Some of us drink heavily, but some of us are teetotallers. Someone might argue that all of us have almost nothing in common, and somehow they would be right, to some extent. Still, we like to get together and share a table a few weeks before 25 December.
We sit there, at these tables, and we talk, and we may even try to joke and laugh, although deep inside there may be no mood for laughter. Not really; but we all know when to laugh, and what to laugh about.
We are perfect strangers, yet we like to get together. We seem to have almost nothing in common, but we all agree that we like to get together of a Sunday, a few weeks before that time of year they call Christmas. We do this because there is something that unites us, despite our vast differences.
We get together, and we eat a late breakfast – a very late breakfast for those of us who have been awake since 5 am, way before the sun rose. For some of us, waking up before dawn is our daily bread.
We have all brought a little something we would like to give away as a present. We organise a raffle, draw numbers and take a gift home, a gift for the one who is not there.
What is it that brings us together, you might ask? That something that unites us is enormous; it is, quite possibly, well beyond words. We get together because all of us grieve for our dead child. We all have one child that has predeceased us. For some of us, there may have been two deaths; children who have died before their parents.
We get together because we want to reach out to each other; we get together because we share our pain; we get together because one does not just “get over” losing a child. We all know that. We share that knowledge. We go through our loss every day. We get together because for some of us, the ones we might have relied upon for understanding and support have simply vanished into thin air or have cowardly hidden behind an unwritten code of silence.
We feel there is a lot of comfort in getting together. For some of us, there may be hope to be shared. For some of us, hope is an abstraction, no more. But the most important thing – at least for me – is that there is no room for pretence. There is no need to fake. There is no pressure. There is no silliness, no vacuous laughter.
For the rest of people, perhaps even for you, it may be the ‘silly season’. How silly is that?