I run the water into the sink
I pile the glasses and plates into its steamy depths.
Beer glasses, wine glasses and champagne flutes.
My mind floats back to other Christmas seasons.
The piles of red and blue and purple tupperware
The dishes of childhood.
My ear turns to the sound of voices
The children returning.
A crowd of competent young adults
Has replaced those laughing, fighting little people.
They dangle, like tinsel, careers and degrees and life experiences and young romances and even their own little babies
The Christmas tree is still the same
The adults are older and a little bit wiser and, hopefully, a little more serene.
The setting is still as green and beautiful and unchanged
The change is in the children, coming home.
Sometimes I long for those far off days; watermelon fights, christmas stockings, cricket on the lawn.
Carols on the roof, the fight for the turkey drumstick. The art auction to raise holiday pocket money. Camping on the lawn.
I hear the sound of beer tops popping.
Laughter and the distant sound of ball on bat. A new little fielder takes his place.
The children have returned for the holidays.
It’s a circle. Each generation of adults holds the constant for a little while.
Then the next generation takes its turn.
A circle of laughter and memories and trust.
It’s a circle of belonging.
It may expand but it can never shrink without a sense of loss and sorrow.
It’s a circle of family.
Back on the farm for Christmas.