21 Dec

It’s nearly Christmas and up on Ponsonby Road the Bhana Brothers have crowded the pavement with Christmas lilies, peonies, roses, heavy headed hydrangeas, heliconia, tomatoes and strawberries. The smell, the colour and contrast of fruit and vegetables is seductive – it’s such a pleasure to pause and simply look. It’s also hot, so there’s an awning hoisted to keep the flowers cool, and throughout the day one of the Bhanas checks them and refills their containers. At the other end of the road the hospice shop has a large and slightly lugubrious nativity scene  in their window surrounded by an assorted array of shirts, shoes, CDs and saucepans. Between those two points, the bars and cafes are full – people swirl round corners and greet each other – sometimes more effusively than they might usually, but it’s Christmas, the sun’s shining and it’s nearly the holidays. The street people float among us. Some drift into shops where they can get coffee and sandwiches, some sit in their self-appointed spaces and smile or sing, and some come up and ask you for something.

I love Ponsonby Road and its bustle but I love coming home.

When the children were small, we sang carols and had concerts with the neighbours – someone’s son played the piano, there were flutes, violins, cellos more or less in time with the piano, the smallest children screeched on their recorders, and the parents clustered round song sheets – there were never quite enough – and tried to remember the second verse of The Holly and the Ivy or Silent Night. It was always a raucous happy night – one of the dads’ favourite songs, which we always finished with, was A Pukeko in a Punga Tree. It was always good to come home and walk into each child’s bedroom after they were asleep and bless them.

This is  one of my favourite Christmas images. I first saw it in a book called The Quiet Eye by Silvia Shaw Judson who was a Quaker and a sculptor. It comes from the Byzantine Museum in Athens and is dated fourth century AD.

Byzantine Nativity

Its quietness has something in common with a medieval lyric about Christmas:

He cam also stille

Ther his moder was

As dewe in Aprille

That falleth on the gras.

He cam also stille

To his modres bowr

As dewe in Aprille

That falleth on the flowr.

He cam also stille

Ther his moder lay

As dewe in Aprille

That falleth on the spray.

Christmas isn’t happy or peaceful for everyone which is why this air from The Messiah, which I went to last week, is one of my favourites.


2 Responses to “Christmas”

  1. Jean Hoefling October 12, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    A lovely meditation. Thank you.

    • sightbyte October 15, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

      Hi Jean,
      How kind of you to like my Christmas piece. Thank you…I must write more!
      Best wishes,

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Steph Matuku

Writer & Voice

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