A winter rose – pic by cousin P

Jennifer O’Connell wrote a thought provoking article on Sat 14, 2019 in the Irish Times. In it she explored living abroad for Christmas and the efforts to recreate an atmosphere of home. I remember my grandmother’s stories of life in Tully, North Queensland and her dreams of going back Ireland – the sadness and loneliness of the poems and songs of emigration. Now we have a generation of adventurers living the dream abroad.

But interestingly O’Connell’s comments that homesickness isn’t really about place that particularly fascinated me. It’s about experiences. It’s a longing for memories of another time, memories that don’t yet exist, and now won’t ever exist. And this happens to everyone. You move away from home, your children move away from you, families have to organise around new families. But for a few days everyone tries to recreate the christmases of childhood. Sometimes we have to have Christmas a week early/late to facilitate this call of our past.

Pic by cousin P

Jennifer discovered recently that the Welsh and the Portuguese have uniquely beautiful words for this. The Welsh call it “hiraeth”.

It’s rare to come across anything poetic on Wikipedia, but here is the definition it offers of hiraeth: “missing a time, an era, or a person – including homesickness for what may not exist any longer . . . the bittersweet memory of missing something or someone, while being grateful [for] their existence . . . a longing for a homeland, potentially of your ancestors, where you may have never been.”

The Portuguese word “saudade” is similar. It means, I think, the presence of absence; a longing for someone or something that you know you can never experience again. It’s not an entirely bereft kind of longing, because it’s a longing for something that was once yours.

Home is more than a place; it’s a story we tell ourselves; it’s people, sensations, memories and feelings.

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice – The Shortest day of the year

Art: Jessica Boehman
Text: Brigit Anna McNeill
Post: @Druid

The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close… like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.

Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; and yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and the weather so bitter that people are left feeling that winter is hard, because for those of us without burning fires and big festive families, it can be lonely and isolating. Whereas in actual fact winter is kind, it she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards this annual time of peace and reflection, embracing the darkness and forgiving, accepting and loving embracing goodbye the past year.

“Winter takes away the distractions, the buzz, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth”.

.. and then, just around the corner the new year will begin again, and like a seed planted deep in the earth, we will all rise with renewed energy once again to dance in the sunlight

A happy winter to you all…