My wise old Mother used to love rolling out the phrase "good to see them, good to see them go" in relation to Christmas-New Year.
She was referring to visits from the extended family, often likened to the annual wildebeest migration on the Serengeti.
And as we welcome in the new year it seems timely to ponder that complex notion of coming and going.
To the year that was; to the family stampede that might have just wrapped up; to the tether, that hopefully remains intact.
Traditionally a high traffic period where bed space is at a premium and lots often get drawn as to who sleeps where and on what - the floor, in a tent, on the cat.
Drawing the tent never seemed to go down well, particularly with those still breast-feeding, but families have unique ways of sorting out such issues. Often based on seniority, or who turned up first. Systems of justice, or injustice, depending on how you feel about sleeping in a tent.
The trick was always keeping family justice issues from spilling out into the wider justice system, and of course that's what families generally do well - create and contain social disharmony.
Sometimes tensions do surface. And indeed it might occur round that ironically named period of the day known as "happy hour". When truth flows as freely as festive cheer, and perhaps something trivial gets said that should not have been said, within earshot.
Causing someone to spectacularly lose their lolly, as they say in the classics, to be referenced through the ages thereafter by those family members who may or may not have a reasonable axe to grind. Probably about the tent.
Inevitable that someone triggers from time to time, but generally no biggie because that's how family folklore forms.
Amazing the stiff upper lip mum and dad kept every time they waved us off after our typically pleasant and well-catered sojourns spiced with the odd tiff here and there.
They were obviously grieving that we were all moving on into the new year, but steeled in the heart with knowledge that we were going to a better place. Somewhere else.
Almost impossible to imagine they were looking forward to a rest.
The psychology of coming and going can be complex that way.
And having gone full circle with my own extended family this year I now better understand the sadness, joy, and palpable sense of relief that comes with getting the house back. As empty as it now seems.
They came, they gorged, no one had to call the police. A two, or three, way street - possibly a roundabout - of give and take, and the odd, as yet undiagnosed clinical anxiety. All tied together by pudding and ham.
Certainly glad to see them, and actually pretty sad to see them go. It is, after all, lovely to have everyone together under one roof, although maybe we need a bigger roof.
Mental note to self - got to pack the Christmas tree away.
A familiar reminder that life goes on.
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