Christmas means different things to different people for different reasons. I used to love Christmas – putting up the tree and wrapping gifts rated No.1 on my “happy times” list. I’d go all out to make Christmas as special as possible for everyone in my life … but then my family broke up and ever since Christmas has been a time of increasing pain and sorrow. I’ve tried many things to get through the Christmas season including:
- Spending a white Christmas working overseas
- Taking two tropical island holidays
- Choosing to spend one Christmas with myself only
- Hosting Christmas parties for my friends
- Focusing on charity and giving for Christmas
- Having my mum visit with me
- Spending Christmas with my grandma in Sydney (sadly no longer here)
This year I will spend Christmas with friends.
As a single person, I make a point of cultivating a “family of friends” in my life and reaching out to others at Christmas time … but no matter how hard I try, there is still no substitute for real family at Christmas (even if they are fruitier than the Christmas cake and plum pudding put together).
Nothing beats the excitement of waking up in a household of children bouncing off the walls with the anticipation of unwrapping presents left under the tree. Our inner nerd breaks free at Christmas and we decorate everything, including ourselves, with tacky Christmas paraphernalia. And there’s always that one uncle who insists on wearing a shirt so loud, even the pets run away when he walks through the door. We cringe at every bad Christmas joke and grandad's favourite CD of Polka Christmas carols ... but that's family.
As much as they may annoy us, families have Christmas traditions that are passed on from one generation to another, even if the tradition is BBQs, beer and backyard cricket … the quintessential Aussie Christmas. It’s because we all know what Christmas could be/should be/ has been, that when it doesn’t frame up to this picture, our hearts can break just a little bit more than before.
I am glad for all those who have happy family to spend Christmas with this year, but do spare a thought for the many, many people who will wake up alone on Christmas morning; who have faced the barrage of “Merry Christmas” celebrations and advertising for close to two months now, knowing that it will be anything but “merry” for them; people who cannot share in the joy of Christmas Eve and who count the sleeps until Boxing Day.
[If you are on Twitter, the #Xmasathome hashtag is where people who might be doing it tough over Christmas can meet & greet with lots of people in the same boat supporting, caring and sharing.]