I…really like Christmas…it’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it…
I’m one of those people who really gets into Christmas. I look forward to it — can’t get enough of decorating the tree, wrapping presents, creating table centrepieces and playing carols.
Every year we pick a different colour theme to use throughout the house, from the wreath on the door to the baubles on the tree, not to mention the wrapping on the presents beneath it. Somehow it seems to make Christmas fresh and shiny and new each year, and we know from the colours exactly which year it was whenever we look back at the photographs.
But yesterday I got a text from a very dear friend proclaiming that she is already over Christmas — that she can’t wait for it to be through.
And I realised, not for the first time this Christmas, that I’m one of the lucky ones.
Every single one of my living blood relatives resides in the same city as me. Just about all of our marriages are all still intact, some of them after more than forty years. And while I wouldn’t describe the vast majority of my family members as normal (whatever that means), we still all speak to each other…well, most of the time, anyway.
I do know just how lucky I am. I’ve celebrated Christmas thousands of miles from home and family members, and spent my childhood celebrating it twice as a result of my grandparents’ divorce — or three times if we made the long trek up the Pacific Highway to do it all again with my relatives in Queensland too.
Looking around at my circle of friends I see so many dear ones who have made Australia their home, and who still have family elsewhere. I know that at Christmas their thoughts will inevitably turn to England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Poland, Austria, Brazil…and I also know that however much we love it, Australia is a long way from most other places.
Wherever you are and whatever you face, these are the people who make you feel safe in this world…
I can’t take away the distance, or whatever dysfunction might affect your family situation this Christmas. But it is my fervent hope that you get to celebrate with the people you love, who mean something to you, regardless of whether they are related to you or not.
What I can do is share with you my favourite Christmas song. It’s not a carol — but a beautiful, irreverent, heartfelt piece by the inimitable Tim Minchin. For me, it captures the spirit of Christmas in Australia, and sums up the way my family celebrates each year.
I can’t watch it through without tearing up.
But if you’re on your own this Christmas, or if your family situation is fractured or somehow faulty, or if you’re nine thousand miles from the people who dared to bring you into this world and gave you the courage to roam it, or if you are lucky enough celebrate Christmas surrounded by the people you love, or whatever your circumstances are — this is for you.
And me? The Bloke? Marvel Girl and Miss Malaprop?
We’ll be seeing my Dad, my brother and sister-in-law, my nieces and Mum…we’ll be drinking white wine in the sun…