Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And my first one in Australia. I have to say, it’s a bit weird. Firstly, it’s not freezing cold and I never thought I’d miss being cold. I’m also contemplating a BBQ over stuffing a turkey; I’ll be drinking white wine with my friends instead of red wine with my sisters; building sandcastles on the beach instead of Lego with my nephews. And quite frankly, I miss the sweet sweet sound of Cliff Richard being blasted out of every radio station. There, I said it. I miss you Cliff! But more than anything else, I miss my family.
Christmas was a big deal in my childhood home and Father Christmas came religiously, way past his recommended rate of attendance. My favourite visit was his last, because he bought with him a teaching that will be with me forever.
I was 21 and my eldest sister was to be married the following year. My parents (in cahoots with Santa) decided that this was a sign that his annual visits to us were at an end. So we all gathered at my parents’ house for one last stocking.
Christmas morning arrived, and my Mother’s voice rang throughout the house.
“Has he been? Has he been?”
3 (pretty hung over) sisters traipsed down stairs to find 3 seemingly empty stockings hanging in front of the fire, in fact, the only full ones belonged to my brother-in-laws! All Christmas cheer flew out the window, and we raced to my parents to demand an explanation. Upon closer inspection, there was of course a gift inside. A card from an aid charity telling us we had… Goats! One for each of us, named with our respective nicknames and bequeathed to families in developing countries so they could provide milk for them in times of hardship. And then there was the poem. My family love a good poem and every year Father Christmas would leave us one. We loved them and they became as exciting as the gifts themselves.
In his last ever poem, Father Christmas marvelled at how we’d grown and how he’d miss visiting us, and then in perfect iambic pentameter he explained that this year, he’d given us gifts in the true spirit of Christmas. Gifts that were far more precious than our standard stocking fillers, gifts that would enrich the lives of others, gifts that reflected the women we had become.
That year, I learnt that to give to those in need is a gift in itself. We don’t need ‘stuff’ to be shown love. Love is expressed through the contribution to the lives of others. It’s a formidable force, invisible and un-measureable yet so powerful in its ability to create a joy far greater than any material possession can provide.
So this year, wherever you are in the world, show some love. Reach out to those in need, donate to those less fortunate than you, show your fellow men and women that you care and that they matter. The funny thing about love is, the more you give, the more you get back and I think the world could do with a bit more of it. He’s a clever chap that Santa. Merry Christmas.