I have been busy ticking my way through a to do list and I now find myself at the Christmas related tasks. Not bad and very timely. This afternoon the plan is to buy ourselves a real Christmas tree and decorate it.
Christmas in the northern hemisphere is a novelty for me. I have been so grateful to have spent two postings north of the equator as it has helped me to understand so many of the Christmas traditions that do not relate to the Australian climate at all. An evergreen tree makes so much more sense once you witness the last leaves hitting the ground in November. A large baked dinner of turkey and trimmings is more appetising with icicles adorning the trees in your garden.
Last night I flicked through the December copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly on the iPad (the joy of interactive magazines may be another post). It included an article on the different ways Australians across the country would be spending Christmas Day. If I could have, I would have posted it to Facebook as the descriptions of the varied Aussie Christmases are beyond the imaginations of many of my friends. It took me a moment to realise that they weren’t for me. Although I may never have lived on a cattle station in the middle of a red desert, the planned celebration was not at all foreign. While attractive, northern traditions are completely foreign and do not represent a Christmas I recognise.
Christmas is all about family for me. Last Christmas I informed my family that I would not be coming home this Christmas as it was too far and I would be home in six months anyway. A few days later, after the jetlag had passed, I reversed my decision and told them that I would brave the flight. I had realised, as I have on Christmases I have spent overseas, that I find more joy in the presence of family than in anything else.
I often feel conflicted as a Christian, and not a little guilty, as Christ was not part of my Christmas experiences as a child. I grew up knowing the meaning of Christmas but this never featured in the experience of the day. Christmas Day was a gathering of family, celebrating over a meal and sharing gifts. It is this aspect of sharing at Christmas that attracts me each year.
Next year we will not have to brave a 24 hour flight across the world to celebrate Christmas with our family. Instead we will have our own home, decorations that we can enjoy for the entire season and we will wake up in our own beds. Santa will actually visit our house. We will, for the first time, start to develop traditions for our family of four. There is sadness that we will no longer spend so much time with my parents over Christmas. However, we will participate in so many other family events which will more than make up for it.