Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Presence not Christmas Presents

Barnacle Geese from Svalbard over SW Scotland
The family is descending upon us in various waves over the Christmas and New Year festive period and there is a good feeling of joy and togetherness that can often be missed throughout the course of the other months of the year. Sometimes friends and members of our family who live in far flung corners of the globe travel huge distances to spend some time with us and renew old bonds. These visits also create new bonds when children introduce new partners or friends and sadly, they can also remind us of bonds that we had that aren't always present any more for one reason or another.

As a nature lover and wildlife photographer I also think of our wider bond with the flora and fauna of the natural world around us. It is amazing how often we receive visits from those who live in far off places but perhaps we aren't always as aware of them as we should be. Perhaps we don't pay them a visit or even give them a second thought. I love this time of year as it allows me to reconnect with members of the wider 'world' family who travel great distances to bring their Christmas presence to me. In my little corner of the world that means Whooper Swans from Iceland, Barnacle Geese from the Arctic Circle, a host of wildfowl from Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and a plethora of small birds such as Fieldfare, Redwing and Waxwing.

Whooper Swans from Iceland over SW Scotland
Reflecting on all of this makes me aware that, just as it should be with our own immediate family, its not Christmas presents that are important but rather Christmas presence. For without the presence, so much is missing and so much is lost. It is the bonds, links and connections that are important, even if we don't always realise it. For it is only once we have lost what we have that we realise how important it actually was.

As we talk and reminisce and share over this festive season take a moment to think about the natural world too for it is becoming distant to many of us. Green space is being lost at an alarming rate as man continues to devour every resource this planet has. Species are becoming extinct at an equally alarming rate and it is only once they have gone that we understand how important they were.

A winter murmuration of Starlings at Gretna Green, SW Scotland
There is always a period over Christmas when we need to shake off the cobwebs and 'get some fresh air'. Why not use it to form new bonds or strengthen old ones with the natural world around you. Go and see those amazing creatures that have flown thousands of miles, bringing their new children and friends and partners to your corner of the globe. It is a good way to contemplate what is valuable and important.

After all it is presence and not presents that is important.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Barnacle Geese from Svalbard over SW Scotland

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Articles and photography copyright of Tom Langlands

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