In my efforts to not forget my promise to write a story about one of our Christmases with Harry I wrote in the diary ‘write Christmas story’. I read it later and had to chuckle, ‘The’ Christmas story of course has already been written years previous and yet funnily enough Harry reminds me of that story, of Christ coming amongst us; Immanuel.
Harry wasn’t much for presents he was interested in the presence of people. So to be surrounded by close and extended family really floated Harry’s boat! He loved the presence of his Grandad Bob, who would take him on his knee and sing to him, he didn’t mind whether they were ballads or ditties you could just see the pure contentment of being with his Grandad written all over his face. One minute a laugh the next a contended face of serene pleasure. His Granny Una had the ability to always include Harry, a hold of a hand or a ‘what do you think Harry?’ She had the most tender of voices and Harry heard it with returned loved and fondness. Grandma June would chat with Harry telling him anything and everything, he made more sounds with her than probably anyone of us, in his own way he chatted back agreeing or disagreeing by the tone of his vocals. Smiles would be a plenty when Grandma June was around!
Two particular Christmases stand out for me, the first was when all the children were quite young, we had a tradition of opening presents after going to church, this particular year the service was going on and on and I could tell Jack, Harry and Sophie were getting restless, we decided to sneak out early! However our early absence had been spotted and we later had a concerned phone call from the vicar, he was hoping that Harry had not been taken ill with a seizure or anything! A lot could be ‘blamed’ on Harry but seeing as he was chuckling in the background we could hardly do anything but ‘fess up! We put the phone down amidst guilty laughter all round!
The other Christmas that stands out was ‘rabbit Christmas’ I can’t remember why but for some reason we ended up bringing Humbug, the outdoor rabbit, inside to share in the festivities. Sophie thought Harry might like him on his lap, but Humbug the rabbit rather decided hopping all over Harry was much more enjoyable than sitting still. Harry loved it! A bouncing Humbug was a truly lovely gift for Harry that year.
So for Harry it was truly about presence not presents. I miss Harry’s presence more than I can begin to describe as well as Grandad Bob and Granny Una’s but I will always be grateful for the way Harry taught the importance of presence to me.
May this Christmas be filled with joy as we remember God’s gift of presence as well as each other’s.