Christmas has become a lot of things in recent years and some of them have nothing to do with Christmas, that is, Christmas in the traditional, religious sense. I’m guilty of it myself – I’m not especially religious and I’m totally exploiting this holiday for my own purposes. My reasons though, are honourable.
Christmas is about family.
While my family is as dysfunctional as any other, we manage to get along. We love, we give and I actually get to see relatives I may only see one other time that year. Christmas makes us connect. Christmas brings us together. I love it and I’m grateful for that.
Christmas is also about memories.
Christmas is odd in Australia because although it’s (obviously) southern and completely summer, everything I associate with Christmas is very northern and completely winter. I send Christmas cards with snow and robins on them and lay garlands of fake mistletoe along the mantelpiece. Christmas trees lopped from a pine plantations don’t last long (and make a pine needle mess) so every year of my entire life, we’ve had a fake Christmas tree. And every year, the family puts it up.
Our first family Christmas tree was from the 1950s. It was my grandmother’s old tree, with plastic interlocking truck and each layer of limbs had to be slotted into sections A, B or C. Top of the range – probably, for its age – but it was brittle and each year we’d find leaves and wonder where they were meant to go. After we assembled the tree our hands would smell like coin-metal and plastic. And each year, the cat peed in the tree box.
We’d decorate the tree in memories. Things we’d made at school, decorations we were given. Remember that? It came with those teddy bears. I remember pulling the decorations from storage and smelling their plastic-faux-ness. Dad would string the paperchains around the room and complain about the Blu-tack staining the walls.
My mother helped me decorate my tree today. We reminisced about decorations, I explained the significance of decorations from my husband’s youth. A small stocking he made from felt at school.
Christmas is about loss.
I have decorations my grandmother gave me and she was all for a party, no matter the circumstance. Mum said, “I miss Mum, this time of year.”
“Me too,” I said, “But really, they are with us more than we know.”
Christmas is all these things.
This is why I love Christmas.
It’s about family.