It is always a long wait for Christmas to arrive. The reason to have a short stretch of happy public holidays comes only once a year and it is therefore the only time of the year when my family is complete again. A really long wait but no sooner had my sons arrived home then the goodbye hugs and bon voyage wishes began – a mere few days later. The Mrs and I have been empty nesters for two decades.
When our boys left home, it took me a long while to accept the emptiness that enveloped my life. It seemed like I lost the purpose for my existence – it only dawned on me recently how grossly unfair I was to The Mrs to have felt this way. When they were growing up, the home was a busy and noisy place. A hive of happy activities. Sounds of their music dominated the air be it of their making or from the CD receiver. That was how I gathered my repertoire of cello music. They listened to all sorts of music too, of course. The standout for me was John Williams’ Star Wars – even today, his drum march in the Main Theme never fails to arouse the fighting spirit in my once young body. His Binary Sunset will live forever – whenever the french horn makes its entrance in the music, you just know John Williams will never disappear into the sunset. Also known as the Force Theme, it made a permanent mark in my memory – the music gave me so much hope during the scene when Luke Skywalker gazes at the twin suns of Tatooine. The music stopped for many years when our boys left home. The sadness, the silence and the solitude were strangers and unwelcome. Spurned in fact. It took years to reset my life. For me, the purpose The Mrs and I had in our lives had suddenly evaporated. We built a house and made it a home. Filled it with love, hope and laughter. And purpose. We were always the adults in the room. They were the kids, dependent on the adults for almost everything. Food and clothing, yes. Shelter and sanctuary, yes. Money, tick. Transport – more reliable and punctual than even Uber today, tick. As the head of the family – that is debatable if you ask The Mrs – I must confess there is a sense of self importance. Every major decision had my mark of approval. Every investment, good or bad, had my nod. Every path they took had my blessing. Skip Years 11 and 12 of high school and go straight to uni? The headmistress of Marryatville High cautioned us but I said yes. The sudden offer had come from The Queensland Conservatorium – we would be foolish to reject it, especially with the full scholarships. What knowledge they sacrificed from missing those two years of school can be gained from the Internet these days. But the two years achieved early in the conservatoire would be of greater benefit to the twins, I reasoned. I foresaw that they would be competing against the world’s best in their chosen field of music performance – the earlier they start their postgraduate courses, the better equipped they would be against the rest of the world, especially the Europeans and Americans. But that false feeling of self importance, being the “god” who is needed, disappeared once they left our nest. Now as I sit and observe them partying or relaxing at home, they give me this great sense of pride that The Mrs and I did our job well. All three boys have turned out fine. Excelling in their careers, they are educated, smart and worldly. Their conversations amongst ourselves or with their cousins, and other relatives are fast flowing and intellectual, topics are vast and varied, and their voices louder than mine. I am rendered a mere observer at the best of times when they are around, and if I do speak, I struggle to hold their attention. Have I always been this slow and quiet conversationalist? As an observer, I see the inevitability of bruised egos and hurt feelings when I listen to their staccato of extensive and quick exchange of ideas, opinions and prejudices, and their no holds barred honesty with everyone. We are brutally honest with one another which means that in every family reunion, there will be a drama or dramas to cope with. As Nicole Kidman once said, even she has to humbly take the rubbish to the outside bin whenever she is home. When my sons return home, they too leave their “stardom” outside my house. After many reunions, these dramas are replayed in my mind with constant reminders from the same culprits and recently they have begun to haunt me; whenever these dramas are retold, they make me feel inferior, defective, and bad. But, I am good at expelling such thoughts; it would be silly to let such toxicity linger within. Go away, for these dramas are usually not real, a figment of someone’s imagination. What is real is the goodness of my family, the good sons who grew up in the nest The Mrs and I built and the hope they bring forward to the future. Maybe that is why we love Star Wars. When they come home, we will watch the latest instalment together, or some other movie if there is no new screening of it – a visit to the cinemas has become an annual pilgrimage just prior to Christmas. This year’s story about the last Skywalker was not as captivating. But let us not blame Disney for that – the Mandalorian is superb – all eight episodes are fantastic and the ideas are refreshingly different yet bear some link to early stories.
The aromas during this Christmas holiday have broken the longest Intermittent Fasting streak I had achieved. For the past ten days, every dinner has been sumptuous, every lunch unforgettable. There have been some wonderful meals cooked at home too. Life is good when one is surrounded by generous people who can cook. Their meals are always so delicious you cannot say no to an extra helping. My waistline is definite proof IF works. Just five days without the usual 16 hour fast was enough to make me look podgy. I no longer possess a flat tummy! The pendulum clock has just begun to strike twelve times! Happy New Year! Let’s usher in 2020 with a new resolution. I have not made a new year’s resolution for many decades but tonight I want to make one. The inspiration comes from the eightfold path. Think no bad thoughts, speak no bad words and do no bad deeds. In Mandalorian speak, that is the way, for me. Maybe I can be a lesser urghhling in the year ahead.