Tuesday, 27 November 2012

With the passing of time

We used to catch up every Christmas. Once a year, every year, my Mother's aunts, cousins and their children would descend upon my Granddad's place and for seven hours would interact as though we'd never been apart. This was only a small part of the older generations, the part still talking to each-other and willing to endure again the tradition of Christmas Eve together. Of the children, there were 11 of us then, all just kids, with about eight years between us and together we instinctively resumed the teasing and petty alliances that had formed the memories of last year's Christmas Eve. We knew each-other at that age: we were young enough to truly focus our attentions on the small swing-set placed on one corner of the backyard and squabble fiercely over the placement of baby Jesus in the manger when midnight arrived. We were also clever enough to know which traditional desserts required our undivided attention as like each-other they only appear at festive times of the years when the grandparents had taken the time and effort to create them especially for us.

As the years progressed, misunderstandings arose and the petty alliances of the children transferred to the grownups. Christmas Eves dwindled until the cousins stopped coming and it became just my extended family. Children grew up, finished school and then finished uni and are now heard to be travelling the world and starting their own families with their own traditions. Cousins maintained their feuds, divorced and came to terms with the idea of dating anew and becoming grandparents. And the grandparents themselves just got older and frailer and smaller.

Now, we catch up almost every year, once a year. We congregate outside and exclaim at how the children have grown, how much they look like Uncle R or Cousin E. Cousins swell in pride at their childrens' accomplishments, how well they did in uni, what graduate program they've successfully gained admittance to and how successfully their love lives are blossoming into fruition. About once a year, my Mother's aunts, cousins and their children descend upon a local church and a service is held in memory of one of the grandparents.

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