Christmas is the time of year that historically we have been encouraged to reflect upon all the “gifts” we’ve received throughout the year.  In Dickensian times home-made pomanders – an orange spiked with cloves and hung with a ribbon to help disguise the smell of less than fresh and clean clothes and home – were given in gratitude for friendship and support, in addition to the religious crib-side connotation.  Present giving now perhaps is more to do with the desire to please or give, than as gratitude.  Gratitude comes later in the form of copious thank you letters, cards, calls, texts or emails.  Or should.

Clearly this year has been one of extreme change in relation to our freedom of choice and what we can and can’t do or make plans for.  

For many it has taken away livelihood and/or the ability to feel secure financially.  It has removed and challenged physical, emotional and psychological certainty and has completely redefined how we interact with one another, our families, our friends and at work.  It’s taken away holidays; all the live performing arts; eating out, ending the week at the pub – our entire social lives as they were – and it has been about loss.

Terry Waite CBE was taken hostage in Beirut on January 20th 1987, where he remained in captivity until his release on November 18th 1991.  He spent four years in solitary confinement and was held for a total of 1,763 days.  Recently he was reflecting on lockdown (in an interview) acknowledging the frustration of being “stuck at home”, but he said, being “stuck at home” is nonetheless, safe at home.  Does resilience therefore evolve into gratitude?

At BDB we have had many clients who have had to face huge emotional challenge and upheaval during the course of probate when someone close has died, or downsizing, particularly when an elderly or unwell family member has to go into care.  One client first lost his son to suicide; 2 years later his wife to a stroke; 5 years after that his father to dementia.  It was incredible that he’d dealt with absolutely everything himself – emotionally and to a large extent practically too.  When I asked him how he’d coped, he smiled slowly and said he was grateful that he was “as thick as I am or I’d have been a lot worse for all that thinking …”.

We’ve asked some of our contributors this year for their take on gratitude:

Jeremy Ellis, Mediator at Prefix Mediation –

From “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Macksey

“ When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy.

“When I have dared to show my weakness.”’

”Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse. 

“It’s refusing to give up.”

Sara Morton, Sara Morton Real Estate –

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

Sonal Rabheru, Senior Consultant Residential Property at Setfords –

“I am so grateful that I have goals to motivate me and dreams to inspire me, to keep me going through what has been a difficult year.”

Caroline Palmer, Top Dog at Raising the Baa Corporate Teambuilding –

“Like so many others, we’ve had a really hard business year, but gratitude or counting our blessings has helped massively.  By focussing on things we are grateful for puts everything in perspective as there’s always someone in a worse situation than us.”

Amanda Attrell, Later Life Lawyer at Parfitt Cresswell Solicitors –

“During 2020 many of us have become grateful for the little things, and come to realise that they are, in fact, the bigger things.”

Another traditional theme is the Christmas No 1, whether it’s been Slade, The Pogues, George Michael, another X Factor winner, a wonderful choir or Sir Cliff Richard. In a recent radio interview Sir Cliff recounted his lockdown experience at his home in Barbardos.  He’d had to let his gardeners and household staff go, so had had to learn to work the dishwasher, make the beds, cook, sweep the floor etc.  For that, he was extremely grateful because should his music career finally end, he said he’d make a great housekeeper …..!

Personally, I’m grateful for “The Nutcracker” traditional story/ballet at Christmas because it immerses me into a wonderful world of imagination and simplicity, and it recharges my hope for the year ahead.  Thank you for being valued colleagues and friends and let’s all be thankful to have learned as much as we have, the good and the bad, this year.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas – stay safe and well.

Best Wishes –

Claire

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