Wishing you a peaceful Winter Solstice - Katherine Roberts

At the time of writing I do not know if my 87-year-old mother will still be with us at Christmas. She was rushed into hospital with a severe stroke at the end of November, and has not yet regained her swallowing or speech. She's still being fed via a tube in her nose and is obviously not going to be tucking into turkey and all the trimmings any time soon. So this year, in my family, the usual run up to Christmas is turning into a subdued jog around various hospitals to visit her (she's been moved a couple of times), interspersed with quiet moments at home when I just can't seem to get into the mood for any festive decorating, xmas shopping, writing sparkly cards, or any of the other frantic preparations that usually accompany this time of year.

This has, strangely, been blessing. I have some fresh candles and I've placed a few simple items around the house to mark the season. A silver reindeer tea-light holder. A Scandinavian-style reindeer wreath (because they don't make unicorn ones). A silver star. An extra string of fairy lights (I'm the kind of person who likes to keep a few fairy lights up throughout the year). But we're not having a tree, and we're definitely cutting down on presents. There are no young children to disappoint in our family, and nobody else seems to want any expensive gifts this year. I know I don't. I've been running around in circles for most of this year stressing about publishers and agents, fluctuating book sales, falling author incomes, the rapidly rising pension age (particularly if you're a woman of a certain age), the housing market, rising sea levels that delay the trains, and of course Brexit (though there's not very much I can do about any of them), while doing welcome part-time work with university students as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow to pay the bills, but when death comes knocking this close and this hard, nothing else seems to matter very much, only the love we share.

This Winter Solstice, I invite you to pause and remember your loved ones. If they are gone, light a candle for them. If they are still with you, make them stop running around in circles for a few minutes, sit them down and tell them that you love them. Don't wait for Christmas. Do it now, before it's too late.


When she's not running around in circles, Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and historical fiction for young readers. You can find out more about her books at www.katherineroberts.co.uk.


Susan Price said…
A timely post, Katherine. Shall be thinking of you.
Umberto Tosi said…
Peace be with you too, Katherine, in this difficult time for you - that I know well from experience. Celebrate the changing of seasons and turning of another year, with hope and joy always.
Penny Dolan said…
Thinking of you, Katherine.
Thank you. Mum is spending Christmas Day in hospital and still being fed through a tube, so it's our first Christmas lunch without her. Will seem strange.

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