Nell Goddard

musings of a clergy child

27 Dec

To an Absent Friend

As many of you know, every Christmas we open up our home to those who would otherwise spend the day on their own.

This means that we can have a very eclectic bunch of people around the table, mostly different every year. There are, however, a few who have almost become part of the furniture, having been with us every single year since we moved to London - over half a decade now. These are people with whom I have spent more Christmases than my own grandparents, and they are very, very dear to my family.

This year, however, we were missing one. A member of our congregation suddenly died in April, and having Christmas lunch without him there was a strange experience. He wasn't always an easy person to be around, and I don't wish to sugar coat the times of frustration and difficulty, but Christmas with him - and with all who those join us - was and is always a joy.

We raised a glass to him over Christmas lunch this year, just as the chocolate pudding - the bit he looked forward to all year, he would tell us annually - came to the table. It sparked in me a desire to put into words this strange feeling of joy mixed with grief - grief as we miss spending Christmas with a friend and a brother, but joy for we do not grieve as those without hope.

And so, a poem: To an Absent Friend

Five Christmases we'd spent
With you in our lives
This year it was different
But that's no surprise

We had guests a-plenty
For lunch, as we do
But your life was remembered
And your presence missed, too

Many years we'd feasted
Sat all around
Some years you spoke
Some not making a sound

It wasn't always easy
You weren't always fun
But we'd rather have you at all
Than have you at none

It was strange not to hear
Your exclamation of joy
'The best bit of the year!'
You'd grin like a boy

Chocolate pudding with sauce
'Twas as simple as that
Passed down the table
To where you were sat

And so, this is us
A mis-matched bunch
Of strangers and friends
In the middle of lunch

Then we all raise our glasses '
To an absent friend' we cry
It's odd you're not here,
There's a tear in our eye

Happy Christmas, dear Mark,
A greatly missed friend
But home now with Jesus;
For death's not the end.


Nell Goddard

Hi, I’m Alianore. I used to be known as 'Nell Goddard', but then I got married and changed my name. I’m an author, blogger, and speaker. A theologian, on a good day. A Christian, a storyteller, and a friend. I tweet as @alianoree and you can find more of my writings in my first book, 'Musings of a Clergy Child'.