Christmas Greetings…

On re-reading last year’s letter I had to open with the prophetic words I ended with:

“We are ready to let the dust settle and become by-standers. May you be blessed this season with appreciation for the simple things in 2020.”


We’ve put aside the life that ‘used to be’ and adapted to a confusing, difficult and heart wrenching world. Furthermore, when I dug out the Christmas cards I’d chosen guilelessly last year during normal times I forced a smile; it just about summed up my feelings of finding myself on ‘an alien soil’. (Psalm137:4)

Let us turn to brighter things. We had a show stopping month in London at the first of the year. Our goal was to immerse ourselves in the culture of my home town and we did.


Family & friends, shows, museums, art galleries, parks, picnics, trains, walks, shopping, baguettes, cafes and our familiar Beckenham High Street and Parish Church. The memories, photos and beautiful art work and pottery lovingly created by friends and family have sustained us during this exile from our lives as they were.
We continue to enjoy our growing grand-daughter who is now a toddler. Sophie is into everything, confident and beautiful, experimenting with words, smiling, laughing, and happily showing us how to find those ‘simple things’.


Oh the blessings of being ElRay and MamaViv!

My calendar, like yours, is full of strike-throughs as events and activities were cancelled. A lot of hours were opened up to us to spend together on our beautiful property; reminiscent of the 18 months we spent in London together selling the flat and closing my parents’ estate. I personally found it all very liberating, I didn’t have to stop mid-project and go somewhere, it was as if I was on a retreat that went on and on. I could be anti-social without being rude because I had a State mandate to follow: shelter-at-home! We kept a working list of things to do so that the isolation was well spent. Even the weather seemed to jump on the bandwagon of difference and our summer was wetter and cooler (hardly any 100° days) and plants, flowers, veggies and grass flourished. Larry’s mowing season lasted well into October!


My heart went out to those parents who had to manage children under their feet as schools and offices closed and everyone, except essential workers, came home. Closed churches and cinemas hit us the hardest. We have enjoyed celebrating mass in our home but are ready to get back to in-person worship. This has been a long season of Lent and now Advent is encouraging us to patiently wait.


Cinemas have started opening at weekends but the film options are limited and Netflix is so convenient! We shop for groceries only, wear our masks, attune our ears to muffled voices and find ourselves surprised at how much we rely on lip-reading to ‘hear’ what the other person is saying.

Good things about all this? Virtual doctor visits, so convenient! Working from home, no more commute! Happy hour with friends on Zoom, no drinking and driving! Meetings online, college online, school online, shopping online, I think even the young people suffered from digital burn out! We all became really creative in ways to keep our lives going, we all discovered things about ourselves, our short fuses, our compassion, our response to alone-ness, and in the midst of it all we, stateside, elected a new President!

So whether we’ve learned to ‘sing the Lord’s song on an alien soil’ (Psalm 137:4) or barely scraped through, I wish you a blessed Christmas and a hopeful New Year!



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