When I was a child there would be so many people around our house for Christmas dinner, we’d have to have two tables to seat everyone. The table where the adults would sit and a second table, just for kids!
There would never be enough chairs for everyone who came to dinner. Some unlucky soul would have eat their entire Christmas meal while perched on top of the pantry step stool, normally used only to get things down from the very top shelf. And at least two kids, the smallest ones, had to share a chair!
This time of year, I usually spend at least a few minutes, imagining what my perfect Christmas dinner, would look like today.
A large well lit room; decorated to perfection with Christmas bobbles from all over the world. Each one carefully chosen and strategically placed. A fire, crackling in the large stone fireplace at the far end of the room. There’s a faint smell of flowers and evergreen mixing with the delicate aromas of freshly baked bread, roasted potatoes… and “Mmmm, is that cinnamon, I smell?”
All of my family and friends are here. Everyone is happy and smiling, with not a care in the world. They warmly greet each other (and me) as they enter the warm, cozy dinning room. “Cheers,” I hear over the sound of glasses clinking together, behind me. “Merry Christmas!” “Nice to see you!” Hugs, smiles and kisses abound. Why shouldn’t they, it’s been a whole year since this imaginary gathering has taken place and everyone is eager to sit down, catch up and dig in!
It’s at this point in my fantasy that the problem begins… it’s here I begin to choke on reality. I feel my smile fade, as I realise I have more chairs than people.
It started many years ago, very slowly. For a long period of time it was just the one empty chair. It stuck out like a sore thumb and it made everyone sad. We all tried to pretend it wasn’t there and we smiled through the pain… but it was there and it was empty.
Then several years later, there was another. Two empty chairs… it almost seemed more appropriate somehow.
Through the years, I’ve become numb to the increasing number of empty chairs around my imaginary table, or at least I thought I had. However, I have to say, this year, noticing that I have more chairs than people, rocked me to the core.
It was the realisation that my family (and circle of friends) is not growing at the same rate of speed with which it seems to be declining… that I found a bit frightening! It truly was a sobering thought.
All in all, I guess there’s not much I can do about this phenomenon… I’m not imagining it… It really is happening.
I can only continue to set the table; welcome my guests; enjoy their company while they continue to visit and I am able to host them.
” Come in, welcome… please take a chair!”