by Helen Wilde
So, the Moveable Feast of Eostre, the goddess of spring fertility, is upon us once again. It’s Easter. We have a full moon, rabbits & chickens, chocolate & sweet fruit buns with a cross baked into the top. For some religions, there are other, more sombre & deeply significant symbols associated with this part of our annual calendar. For most of us, there are 4 days off work, at a time of year when the moon is full, when the day & the night are almost of equal length, with the equinox falling just under 4 weeks before Eostre in 2014, on March 20th. The weather is generally pretty ‘liveable’, whatever hemisphere of this bounteous Earth we are living in.
The stage is set for a time of rest & relaxation, of time with family & friends, of contemplation, & of feasting. In our Northern hemisphere heritage & tradition, even though we are now living in the Southern hemisphere, the annual cycle away from the darkness & deprivation of winter means it’s time to make special purchases of foods that we normally reserve for special occasions: weddings, parties, birthdays, anniversaries. Some observe religious abstinence of some food for part of this time; but all spend at least part of this time feasting.
For about 38 years, our Easter has involved spending time with our extended family. In the early days, these Easter gatherings were held at our house in a small inland country town. We actually sent out invitations, & at first our brothers & sisters & our own parents came, bringing children, the occasional great grandparent, & the occasional dog. We needed caravans & tents for everyone to be able to sleep under cover, & occasionally the bathroom & septic tank struggled to cope. Luckily we were only a short walk from the Public utilities. The cousins bonded for life.
Later, once we acquired our scruffy little fibro beach shack, all the growing cousins brought friends; girlfriends, boyfriends. Meals were mostly eaten outside, huddled away from the sea breezes in a cold year, or gloriously somnolent in sunshine in a warm year. That’s the thing about Easter: it’s a Moveable Feast, so the weather can be like the end of summer; or it can be like the beginning of winter; or even both. We still needed a caravan or a tent some years, but bunks, sofa beds, mattresses on the floor, two showers & an outdoor hose, & two toilets helped a great deal. The septic tank needed regular emptying.
I remember a lot of laughter from those years. For most of those 38 years we were at the beach shack, & our time was taken up with sandcastles, swimming, searching rock pools for little crabs, midnight Jetty fishing excursions, sailing, rowing in a kayak or canoe. Food was abundant of course, as were leftovers. We played cards with gum nuts for stakes, Coon can, Pontoon, snap.
Nowadays our eldest daughter brings her family & we spend about 5 days at the shack. This year, because of the school holidays & other plans our family holiday ended on Good Friday. Traffic on the road to Adelaide was building up, & so they left before lunch today.
Our party this year included a full eclipse of the Moon, two red moons in a row, sunsets & dawns that were peacefully beautiful. Oh & the beginnings of a mouse plague. We swam in the sea, laughed, played games, built sandcastles & lego cities. We spotted our resident gecko, still skittering about inside the shack. We put down mouse bait, & threw out one little corpse. We enjoyed the fun of a 5 year old who wakes bursting with energy at 6.30 a.m. & wants to play baby pelicans (learning to fly & land) baby galahs, or baby seagulls. We enjoyed the seriousness of a tall 15 year old, who wants to share his thoughts & opinions about a myriad of topics. Both children are bursting with the joy of life.
Sure, we did enjoy some great, simple, homecooked meals. We didn’t buy takeaway. We didn’t eat chocolate. We didn’t have any chocolate with us. There are 3 people with diabetes in our party, & we aren’t that fussed about chocolate anymore. After the party’s over, what happens? There are the mechanics to be gone through: cleaning up, working out what to do with leftovers, perhaps extra sheets & towels to wash, if you’ve had house guests as we’ve had. But there is no time to waste on regret, guilt, or ‘shouldn’t haves’.
The motto of ‘Acceptance‘, ‘going with the flow’, is the mantra that my daughter repeated many times over the past 5 days. ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ in life, whether it’s about food, children’s behaviour, TV programmes, the timing of how a day runs on holiday. It’s OK to change your mind, & also to accept that in many cases whatever decision you make is just fine. Managing diabetes is organised, stressful. Reducing stress can be as simple as letting go of the ‘need’ to be the one who manages, who seeks to ensure that everything is covered. It’s actually OK for things on holiday to not be tightly planned & organised.
Technically, our party is over for this year. Last night I was woken from sleep at 1 a.m. by the sound of young girls laughing out the front. Now I hear the sound of other people’s holiday long weekend just starting. People have arrived, having made a long drive from somewhere. My elderly neighbour on one side is from the Adelaide Hills, & he is having a Prawn feast with his extended family, including a new great grandchild. His elderly red dog is resting outside in the shade. On the other side, the young family of the second son is cooking up a Sausage sizzle. Their dog is a middleaged lab, all protective when he needs to be, & all tail waggingly friendly when he doesn’t. Everywhere I hear children playing, birds calling, wind, the sound of the sea on the shore. Out the front, two little boys aged about 9 are walking past, wearing shorts & fleecy jackets.
We have decided to stay on a little. I have been very unwell, & am still moving more slowly than usual. There is a lot to do. We have no need to rush back to the city, where our daily lives are. And it’s still so beautiful here. Our original plan was to head back today, but slowly our plan evolved into a different one. Acceptance includes being flexible, open to what life brings.
Helen Wilde was a Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online. She has been the parent of a person with diabetes since 1979, and has lived with Type 2 diabetes herself since 2001.