Christmas celebrations are something very close to my heart. I unashamedly love Christmas!
Christmas, for those of Christian faith, is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the one that was sent to us to save us from our sins. a pretty big awesome task for a baby!
But as our multi cultural society blends more and more, the idea that Christmas is now just a commercial farce is banded around the media, dinner tables and social media. It has got me thinking. Bought up as a very irregular church going Christian values child, I always understood the reason for Christmas. I knew the story and loved the idea that a fresh little baby was sent to fix our world. I loved being in the school choir singing my little heart out the more popular carols of my childhood years. It gave me joy. Watching Christmas Carols on TV on Christmas Eve was definitely a highlight. How cranky I got if I was sent to bed after the kids songs were over. Must go to sleep or Santa wont come I was told. Sent to bed but determined to stay awake, thinking of what surprises I would listen to Mum bustling in the kitchen and Dad was busy doing the gift wrapping in their bedroom. Finally drifting off to sleep to be up with the sun ready for the best day of the year. Each of us kids had a Santa Stocking which we were allowed to get into before the official gift giving around the tree. Little jars of boiled lollies, PJs, and a few toys and a book, usually an Annual of some sort. Then what I think was my parent’s favourite part of Christmas…. stretching out the time from waking until being ready to sit around the tree to finally open our presents. First Dad had to make Mum her coffee, then he would have his shower. Mum would come down and make us all eat breakfast. The torture of waiting continued. Mum would next dress the turkey. I am sure she used to drag this out longer the more we hopped around her begging her to hurry up. Then she had to have her shower, then do her hair… Each hair individually I swear! The essential makeup too. We would be in and out of her room telling she looked fine, that the tree didn’t care if her hair wasn’t done. Mum would just smile and continue doing what she was doing. In the mean time, Dad would be perched on his stool at the kitchen bench, sucking on his pipe and reading his book. Seriously, how could he be sitting there reading when there were presents to open! We were beside ourselves, twitching with excitement. The more we tried to hurry them, the more things that needed to be done.
FINALLY, Mum would come sit in the lounge room and stage 2 of the parent torture began. Dad would sit on this little cane stool in front of the tree and us kids would sit so close around…. Too close. Dad made us move back, then a bit further. By now we were bursting. To top it off, Dad would fish around for a present, read out the card and finally hand it out. YES!!! But we still had to wait. Wait for Dad to read the card, wait for him to hand out the present, wait for the present to opened, wait for the oooh & aaaahs what is it?, wait for Dad to be satisfied that the present had received sufficient attention then he would reach for the next one and we would go through the process again. It was exquisite torture and made the gift giving all the more special. Finally it would be over and we had to collect up the paper then we could start to play with our bounty.
Being in Australia, we would be outside playing, trying our new presents out. Beautiful weather, carefree and just fun.
I though Christmas truly was magical. I thought this is what happened the world over. I had no concept that there were kids who missed out on a gift, who would not be eating delicious food until they burst, sharing the day with their family. It never crossed my mind that this scene wasn’t played out across the world, across across Australia or even across the street.
But now I know better.
I still love Christmas, I go overboard with gifts for my kids and I definitely torture them by dragging out the whole process of getting to open the presents. I understand the pleasure of a parent watching their child squirm with excitement and anticipation to see what they got for Christmas.
But as an adult, I know that it is not like this for everyone and I choose to do more. I want my children to understand this and when adults they too will choose to do more. So very proud of both of them as they have chosen without prompting from me to help other children this Christmas in their own special ways. I think they actually get it!
I want other children to feel the joy of celebration, of opening a special gift and eating a special meal on Christmas Day. At first it was a few gifts under one of the Charity Christmas Trees, then I discovered community groups that not only collected presents but also food. Every year I find out about new Christmas givings near and far where people willingly give up there time time, skills as well as money to try spread joy to those who for what ever reason struggle this time of year… actually at any time of year. It saddens me that so many people are in need, so many close to home too. But seeing what others will do to help someone they don’t know have a better Christmas makes me believe in Christmas still. That as much as we get caught up in making sure we have found the perfects presents, perfect Christmas dress, perfect Christmas dinner, that many of our community also think of others not so fortunate and do amazing things to get gifts and food to as many people as they can… And mostly without any chance or desire of getting recognition for the efforts. They do it because they believe in being a community, that we all have something to offer if even an hour of time to wrap gifts or check on an elderly neighbour.
These are the reasons I love Christmas so much. Being able to share a special time with my family and seeing our community at work to support others in times of need.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of making it a perfect Christmas then go de-stress by helping to out fill Christmas hampers at your local community centre, offer deliver gifts to families in need, get your hands dirty and pitch in at a Toy Fundraising Drive, cook an extra meal or two and drop them into someone living alone this Christmas, drop your spare coins into the gift giving charity box. In giving to someone in need, you are also giving to yourself. Try it and see!
Phew, that was a long, rambling post. I hope you made it through.