At this time of year, I often feel a bit frantic inside when the Christmas decorations are seen in stores before December. There is a desperation that denies the true meaning of the season as shops are full of enticing products pushing people to buy and spend. Ah, the art of consumer marketing and the expectation it brings to adults and children around the world. Frankly, it puts me in a bad mood! People seem more frantic and less kind. Families argue. Children throw more tantrums and going to a shop can be a nightmare! I avoid the shops and stay home and live in the moment and anticipate the things I’d like to do all year. I rebel against the overspending and debt that once was a pattern for us in this family and choose a different path. I talk to my kids about how material things are not what I want and I really do mean it! The things that I do want, can’t be bought in a store. I want for our family to “get” the meaning not just today, but every day, including those in our extended family. I want humanity to stop hurting the planet and to start really thinking about what they can do individually and collectively to make this world a better place to be. I want to forgive and be forgiven for the past. I want for people not to go hungry all around the world. I want for animals not to suffer for human greed. I think about how I can have a beautiful holiday here in Australia this year by truly being in the present moment and without distraction. I will be spending my days with koalas and those who care for them and I will give my smile to them and a word of kindness to show them they are appreciated every day! Why can’t everyday be Christmas in our hearts and why can’t each day be a gift to the world?? Do we need to overbuy, and over-indulge to have a happy holiday? I really don’t think so.
OK. I’m guilty. I admit it. I used to be right in it and when the kids were little, I spent days decorating, preparing and planning and I often became over-tired and cranky and snapped at everyone around me! Was that in the Christmas spirit? No. Well, Christmas morning would come and then poof, it was gone and there were mountains of waste and clean-up and everyone was overfed and yet still unsatisfied. Does anyone else have memories like this?? My guess is yes, and perhaps as recent as last year or those feelings are beginning to surface now as the season is upon us.
Since we have been in Australia, Christmas has been really strange and has had me re-evaluating the true meaning of the season. I just haven’t felt that “magic” and I have felt down during the season. This year, though, I feel different as though something has shifted. I can’t fix all the problems of the world, but I can do my best to just be happy and I am. A friend played a bit of a game in the volunteer room at the Wildlife Hospital on Sunday as a bit of fun for us all. With many changes taking place, she still found the spirit to give us all a bit of a laugh and a smile! We played a trivia game and I learned the meanings of the words I so often saw but paid little attention to. All the enclosures for the koalas are named and thus we were asked what these names meant. “Warina” means to give and here means give a place to rest. “Allambee” means a quiet resting place. “Sui” was the name of Steve Irwin’s beloved dog and this enclosure holds very special sick koalas. “Kiah” means from the beautiful place. “Burrenbong” comes from the word meaning “no drink” and is where the name koala came from! Thus all the names have a special meaning that is a key to my beloved friend, the koala. Thanks for the education Leisa! It has taken me a few years here and although it will never be the same as in the northern hemisphere, I value the people here that I have met and who inspire me as many selflessly give for these amazing animals. This year, Josh will return from the States and we will create an Aussie memory just by being together as a close family. It will likely be the last one together before Josh moves to the city and enters University which is a new beginning for us all and I try to hold no expectation as to how the day will be. It just will be.
The moments that I remember most satisfying in the past all revolve around that warm, fuzzy feeling of contentment. I ponder now and it was not the gifts received, but the act of kindness behind them, that mattered. To me, the magic came from the cold crisp nights sitting around a roaring fire and singing Christmas Carols. I still smile when I hear those songs and they stick in my head even in this heat! I remember the winter night strolls with icicles hanging from the rooftops and white lights sparkling as I try to imagine being “cool”. I remember the quiet of the night and the peace as we lit the candles. I will light them this year as well and imagine. The ornaments on the tree had special meanings too and each year my mum would buy a new one or we would create one. I remember the smiles on my kids faces and also the times when their eyes just lit up with anticipation. Togetherness and the joy of each others company was what mattered. When Jackie Gram died, I think that took a bit of my Christmas Spirit away but it is slowly coming back. England brought new memories and new traditions. Australia brings more and these are yet to come. I am grateful for each moment each day and the random acts of kindness that others show me, help me see that it is this that matters most and not just on a holiday morning but all year round. I have found my birth mother, Pat and got to know my grandmother, Edna, before she died. Stories emerge and brew. As the sun sets in the summer sky and the sultry air brings floral fragrance, my garden grows in a summer Christmas. My heart is here as well as there, where the bitter cold brings warmth by the fire. May the fire be in our hearts this year across the world, as we all share in a new future with bright horizons. May they be simple and meaningful. Blessings to friends near and far!