On Christmas Day, a cozy, informal dinner was planned with the family. The tradition is that everyone brings something to share, so that the person hosting the dinner doesn’t have too much preparation to do. This year we had prepared delicious French cheeses, smoked salmon and tomato with very tasty burrata (we have our sources) and so we had the whole day to do with as we wanted: no schedules, no time pressures, just pure enjoyment … lovely.
Outside the sun was shining, the temperature was mild, probably a little too mild for the season, but the sky was a clear blue. If the Christmas trees were not standing to attention in their finery in every living room, you might easily have thought that this was an early spring day iacn March.
We decided that this was a good opportunity to stretch our legs and go for a nice walk around the beautiful pond in the middle of our village. Dressed in rubber boots and sweatsuits, we quickly realized just how much a simple act of going for a walk and looking at nature made us all feel so content and happy.
After more than an hour, our walk brought us to the village square. According to the boys, who had decided to collect and carry an enormous load of branches, it was high time to take a break and have a rest on a bench.
After two minutes, my other half thought that it was time to carry on. The eldest shared this opinion, picked up his sticks and took off after his father. I sat on the bench for a while with the little man.
We talked a bit and watched the few people who walked by. Just when we wanted to get ready to leave, an old lady approached us. She was alone and somehow instinctively I felt that we had to stay.
“ Gosh, it’s quiet on the street, don’t you think?” the lady opened the conversation. “I don’t like it that much. I like a little more life.” I immediately saw that this lady needed to talk and since I had time stayed put to listen. Before I knew it, and with little prompting, she told me of her past life and history, leaving no stone unturned. She added finally, that there was so little walking today as people were more content to sit behind their computer screens. I could see her point.
“ Mum, are we going home now?” This break had apparently lasted long enough for one small person. We walked towards the corner of the square. The old lady walked with us and continued her stories. She didn’t seem to want to stop talking to us. Although I didn’t know her and had never seen her before, I realized how important it was for her to talk to someone. A further fifteen minutes later and with the three menfolk of the family giving careful hints to say goodbye, I finally took my leave and wished her a very Merry Christmas and hoped that she had a lot of fun tomorrow with her visit (something which she had described to me in great detail). Importantly, I thanked her for her company and really meant it when I told her that I’d enjoyed talking to her.
As we walked on towards our house, a smile appeared on my face. I had done something very small, but I knew that such a small gesture of stopping to have a chat to a lonely old woman had meant so much, not just to her, but also to me. That’s how simple it can be.