Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art

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Hot Cross Buns and Friendship

Good Friday. I forgot to take any  pictures. I was so involved in the baking, slicing, boiling, decorating, talking, celebrating and just plain enjoying, I forgot to do that slightly detached hiding behind my camera. Which is a shame for this post but at least I was present yesterday.

We had our first party here, here in our woods. About four days ago I suddenly thought hmm, wouldn’t it be lovely to ask all the people who have helped us to a about an Easter’s full moon on Good Friday, lets do it then! A flurry of late night texting ensued and I blew a few eggs to decorate. I don’t like planning too far ahead.

But it felt so very special to bring people together on this land, where no one has lived before (except the badgers, sparrowhawks, nuthatches, orchids….) I mean no person..

We sat around our hastily assembled fire circle, sitting on the timber that even today, Easter Saturday, has been transformed into raised beds. (I promised myself I wouldn’t mention them until a later post but I’m so excited about them that they just crept in without me knowing..)
So we ate hot cross buns dripping butter, straight from the oven, and crowded around our tiny table to paint eggs to decorate our branch of hawthorn, waiting for the procession. Our lovely neighbour disappeared into the woods with his recorder and became ‘the fairy piper’ and we set out, bearing our beautiful egg tree aloft, following the sweet elusive music trilling tantalizingly just beyond our reach. The children gambolled around in such excitement searching for the fairy piper and we processed all around the wood, back past the badger latrines..quite spectacular really, the latrines I mean.

And finally gathered for a small circle of sharing gratitudes.

Then we sat around the fire and ate again…

We have been helped and loved so much in the last three years, following Lily’s death, and during our tenous living situations struggling to get through the weeks and months. There have been lonely times but there have always been friends and family with words, food, cards, accomodation, labour, timber, flowers …and shoulders. We are part of a community and there has been so much teaching in accepting and asking for help (this is still a work in progress sometimes) and completing the circle of love which starts with giving and ends with receiving.

So, now we are finally here, finally stable, and as secure as a cabin in the woods with no planning permission can be, we feel we can open our arms to others. We can give, we can share, we can support. Yesterday felt good.
And we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us (which I forgot, from stage anxiety to mention in the gratitude circle yesterday)



The Birthday

Tomorrow it is my youngest son’s birthday, and his daddy’s too. Four years ago, at seven thirty in the morning, drowsily propped up in my bed, I nursed my new little son and ate the birthday brownies which arrived in the post for Hugh, thanks to lovely Aunty Alice. Two weeks early, Leo took us all by surprise, but I finally had four children! My older three, then aged two, six and eight munched and cooed and cuddled as we all wallowed in that delicious, sublime morning.

Later Hugh’s mum called to wish him Happy Birthday, blissfully unaware of her new grandson. Hugh asked her to guess what his favourite birthday present was.
‘Was it the screwdriver I sent you dear?’ she asked innocently.

How could anything compare to the mysterious wonder of the new little soul arrived in our midst? Hugh will love his favourite birthday present forever!

But will the gifts Leo and Hugh receive tomorrow still hold any interest or value in even four months time? Possibly, but possibly not..they are just things. Sometimes presents just seem like so much stuff to me. I cannot deny that there is a magic in witnessing a child’s excitement and joy on opening a special birthday gift and taking their time to explore and love it and make it their own. Where is the magic however, in watching a child rip through a mountain of presents, discarding them as soon as they are open?

The giving of gifts becomes a meaningless gesture. It provides a momentary rush of excitement for the child, only to be replaced by the odd uncomfortable feeling of being overwhelmed, overexcited and slightly ‘full.’ Unable to interpret the discomfort, the only remedy seems to be for the child to ask for more and feel anguish when there is not.

I love celebrating birthdays and I do always buy a present for my kids, but just one, a special one. Reducing presents coming in from outside is an ongoing process but increasingly being met with understanding.

What makes a birthday meaningful?
Ceremony and ritual sound a little formal, and we’re certainly not solemn around birthdays, but doing certain things together seems to nourish the birthday girl (or  boy) more than a heap of presents. At breakfast I make sure that the table is set with cloths, flowers and candles and make a throne for the  special person to sit on. A nice breakfast is important.. tomorrow it’s croissant..shh!

A tradition I’m planning to start is for everyone else to think of one thing they love or appreciate about the birthday celebrant.  Depending on the age this can cause a bit of squirming but a birthday is a chance to focus with love and gratitude on one person and make that person feel special. Cuddles and stories are good too! And then there’s the party!
I’m sure other people have beautiful rituals they follow for their kid’s birthdays.. have you? I’d love to hear ideas (sensitive and loving) on avoiding the swamp effect of gifts from lovely well meaning relatives too.