The guests are due to arrive.
The table is set. Gracing each end are cups and pitchers of chilled water, bright with lemon and mint from the garden—promising refreshment, a reprieve from the heat of the day.
Music drifts through the house, creating a soft ambience, a warm wind for the soul, an intricate landscape of highs and lows that invites conversation.
I smile chummily at the tealights in old jars sprinkled about the room: some steadily, patiently waiting; others bobbing friendly hello, how do you dos.
I like the way the light caresses the glass vase and then suddenly bounds the other way to dance across the plates and handwritten notes.
Reaching out to adjust one, I sigh in happy anticipation as I recall past Christmases. The remembrances nourish me still, long after the taste of the delicacies consumed has faded. What remains is the taste of kindness, of love, of value imparted through glistening eyes, confiding postures and small-but-thoughtful gestures.
I can shake up the memory of it anytime, anywhere, and it rises and swirls and falls like glitter—sparkly, wonderful truth: I am loved, I am valued.
Now it is my turn to pass on these truths; to create a safe harbour from the storm.
A place where laughter is welcomed but tears are understood.
A place of life-giving words and encouragement, where people do not converse merely to fill the silence, but to learn, to explore, to offer.
The cars are pulling in.
Hannah, fresh-faced and sunburnt from her trip to the Coromandel.
Uncle Jeff, looking slightly weary from his extra hours working on a project.
Nana, in a soft blue dress, eyes alight with excitement. She is happy to rest after her journey, happy to see the wildflowers picked earlier that day, happy to tell me their names and which ones she’s painted.
Dave and Gemma arrive with strawberries, Luke with cheese and crackers, Mum and Dad with a salad.
The drinks are poured, the roast sizzles in the oven, and chatter and the aroma of cooking food fill the air.
There is a sense of serenity in it all. The stress of the year is visibly melting off faces. Smiles have no tightness in them.
Laughter bubbles up, unforced.
No masks; no expectations to meet. Freedom.
The sparkles are falling again: swirling, landing.
I breathe them in—breathe in their strength, savour their truth.
We are loved. We are valued.