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Sometimes it is such a relief to have Christmas over. For the first time in five years it was family lunch my place for Christmas.  Because I was busy volunteering with Lions, selling tickets in the Christmas raffle etc it was hard to find time to shop so I did a combination of gifts and money. Thankfully that went over well, and everything went well with the meal too. I was grateful that my oldest grand daughter remembered how we set up for family gatherings and helped with that. The three oldest grandchildren elected to sit together. I also had invited a friend from church, a single lady with no family close by and so ten of us around a table for eight really didn't work and we needed the extra small table.

The food was good, the main course was meats and salads, a couple of new dishes were commented on. The Adelaide kids had volunteered to bring desserts, so three different varieties of cheesecake, fudges and flans, fruit salad and cupcakes. The table was groaning under the weight of it all. The present opening is fun and I think everyone found something to be happy with. I missed my younger son's regular gift of fertilizer for the garden but with a very hot dry summer ahead probably all my time will be spent just trying to keep the pot plants alive. Terrible stories of people whose lives have been ruined by the current bushfires dominated our news programs this year so I am grateful just to have a garden.

I sent far more Christmas cards this than I have in past years in an effort to reconnect with old friends. I have been slack in keeping in touch. I had an excuse in the foggy years of early widowhood but not now after seven years. The result was a few people responding with newsy cards and phone calls so I am glad I made the effort. At my age old friends are a precious source of memories, and some of the older ones have in the past been my mentors and my inspiration so it was particularly important to reconnect with them.

Christmas is more than cards and presents though,for me it is also for the building of new memories and I was pleased the older grandchildren decided to sit together. Watching them chatting away together I hoped they are building memories that will last. I came from England at the age of seven and didn't reconnect with my cousins till  twenty years ago and feel I missed so much by not being a part of their lives. I don't want that to happen to my grandchildren. I noticed Oliver went over and patted the chair Ray used to sit in, he does that every year. It is good he still remembers his Pa. My children never mention Ray now, I think those last 13 years are still too painful to remember.

Now it is time to look forwards again, to 2020.  I realise it is difficult to plan for the future with another operation to come but this is just a wish list really. I want to visit some of the people I have reconnected with. Some I can easily visit with train or bus journeys so I will concentrate on those. We all wish we had kept in touch with special friends so I know with an effort on my part it is possible. Even if visiting is out of the question I can stay connected by letter or email. I used to be a regular correspondent when we lived in the country so time to go back to that.

I still miss being a partner, wife and full-time mother but I do not miss the drudgery of being a carer 24/7. I know at my age and with my new disabilities that would be impossible now. Ray was a hard man to care for but I have no regrets. Occasionally now I see him in my dreams, younger than when he died, I remember him as the family man mostly. For me those harder years of caring are often too painful to remember so I no longer blame others for feeling the same. I would like to be in touch with his brothers and sisters but they have shut those painful memories out of their minds and me with them. That's life I guess.

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