“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain
I can hardly believe that it's Advent already, that the countdown to Christmas has already begun. December means I have now been in India for three months, isn't that crazy? I can't comprehend how quickly time is passing.
This Christmas - my first Christmas away from home, my first warm and sunny Christmas, my first Christmas spent in the east instead of the west, my first Christmas with Alex - I am determined to make a special one.
This past week, we have created new traditions to mark three whole months living under the same roof: twinkling lights hung around the door and silver coloured baubles threaded onto red string and hung around the curtain pole. A little wreath on the door and tinsel everywhere. A santa-claus and the cutest wee snowman. Christmas candles glowing and carols playing.
As we reach the end of this year – a year full of dream chasing, home-finding and thousands of surprises – these small, simple rituals feel more important than ever. They are a welcomed comfort, a distraction from fretting over much about the dire state of the world. Yet spending Christmas miles away from home means being away from 'X-mas', from decorations that start appearing in October, from a festival that has become more about the amount of gifts we give and receive than anything else. Here, Christmas is a festival we all celebrate.
I don't have an advent calendar this year, but I've decided instead to set myself a goal. That goal is to make sure I do something kind every day. I'd like to think this is something I already do every day, but I know some-days, for whatever reason, I can forget to be kind. This is the season to be jolly, so even if it means plastering a smile on my face at 5am and keeping it there until 11pm, or helping my students with their washing, their relationships, their writing or their passions, I am determined to be so. Kind and Jolly. That's my goal for advent.
It won't be the same this year. I know that. But when Christmas is about Jesus, and family can be seen over skype, and I'm lucky enough to be spending Christmas with my lovely friends and students, how could I be anything but utterly thankful to be spending it here?