Christmas is a time for gathering around the tree, sharing gifts, good food and great company. Hope your day is not too stressy, but very merry and full of cheer
IN a perfect world we’d all be super organised and the festive frolic would be in full swing! The tree trimmed and tinsel twinkling. The shopping done and wrapped. Christmas cards and presents sent. Holiday booked. The day planned and barbecue cleaned. Pantry stocked and menu prepped. And the champagne, wine and beer on ice!
But, alas, this is not a perfect world. Many don’t celebrate Christmas for cultural or religious reasons. Others less fortunate have no family or simply can’t afford to celebrate. And let’s take a moment for those countries where war doesn’t stop for any man.
This time of the year is also incredibly stressful – personally, professionally and financially. Just watching friends and colleagues despair at what could have been or the gift that got away, and privately wishing for a more simple affair is stressful enough! Despite everyone’s best intentions and military-like organisational skills, the best plans can, and often do, go awry. We go through this dance every year, and it will never change.
But I have a confession to make. I’ve done nothing. Nudda, non, nyet. No tree, no presents, no menu planned or food prepped. I didn’t even post any “what to wear” or gift guides here on the blog.
For me, Christmas just isn’t Christmas unless I’m sharing it with family and loved ones.
Growing up in a large Irish Catholic family (if you’re joining me here for the first time, I’m the eldest of eight – six girls and two boys), Christmas wasn’t about the presents, but about our presence. It was a time for sharing a meal together and giving thanks for the gifts of family, friendship and love.
“Our presence – the cost of getting home and contributing to the meal – was our gift to one another”
However, Santa always managed to find his way down the chimney! Our parents weren’t exactly flush with funds, but they believed in giving us something meaningful, something we could all share as a family. One summer I remember them renting a caravan and all of us staying at a local beach. Then there was the table tennis table that Dad built. Another year we were all taken to the Moscow Circus on Ice. (Remember that one?) And who could forget the Totem Tennis. Cricket sets. Big gifts we could all share and use as a family.
As young adults starting to find our way in the working world, we all still managed to find our way home to the celebratory family table most years! Our presence – the cost of getting home and contributing to the meal – was our gift to one another! Great food, great wine and great conversation with the people you love, makes for a most memorable meal.
But now that all my siblings are married with children, getting us all together on Christmas day has become quite a logistical challenge. It is no longer just about us. There are other people to consider – partners, children, in-laws and grandparents. And, don’t forget the pets! I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know or haven’t already experienced! It’s a reality of life. We’ve tried arranging it, but we can’t seem to make it happen. I think 2002 was the last Christmas we spent together as a family!
Add to that the fact that our family is also flung far across this wide brown land. Both my brothers and two sisters live in Melbourne with their partners and children. Another sister lives in Brisbane with her husband and son. The remaining two sisters live in Tasmania with their husbands. As does mother. And I currently live in Sydney.
Finally, factor in everyone’s commitments, and you have a challenge that fits into the “too hard” basket.
Me? I scratched myself out of any potential family Yuletide gatherings this year because, like many other people, I have to work. (Well there is a newspaper on Boxing Day!)
So, this is my Christmas. No tree, no presents, no family or loved one to share a meal with. Even Mr Galeforce isn’t here. I left him in Bali two weeks ago to work on his boat. So he’ll be downing a few Bintangs and having an orphan’s Christmas with the expat flotsam and jetsam that floats his way.
Christmas is a day of celebration, but don’t loose sight of what it really means. May all the joy and happiness of this magical season find you, wherever you may venture. Charge a glass and give thanks. Share the day with the people – or person – you love. Look them in the eyes and tell them you love them. And mean it. Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! But above all, keep safe.
And I live in hope that 2014 will be the year my family can celebrate together!!!!