This time of year is my favourite; more so than my birthday or any other holiday.
I am currently in South Africa with my boyfriend’s family, who are beautiful and I absolutely feel at home here. But there are certain creature comforts about my home in Australia that I tend to feel missing at times like this.
Christmas carols and movies are what give me the most joy this time of year. Music in particular is something that can instantly take you back to a certain time in your life and make you smell the smells and feel the feelings that are associated with that period.
I just spent a little while on my own listening to Christmas carols in my room, and mid jingle bell, I was instantly standing in my kitchen at home, making pudding with my Mum.
Christmas brings such a warm fuzzy feeling to my world – everything just seems more special, and when I refer to ‘Christmas,’ I actually mean the month of December.
The tree is up, the lights are twinkling; I am cooking with Mum, shopping for gifts then wrapping them, entertaining with family and friends on balmy nights and curling up on the couch with my parents to watch old Christmas movie favourites.
Even thinking of it now, I am taken back to those moments and it encapsulates what Christmas is to me.
It’s the most wonderful time of year, because we remember what we should remember all year; the people in our lives.
In December, we put so much effort into thinking of the perfect gift that will make our loved ones smile, we take the time to decorate our homes, we play ‘pretend’ with our little ones, writing letters to Santa and we encourage them to dream and imagine.
We leave carrots for Rudolf, bake homemade cookies for the neighbours and we host dinners on a Tuesday because our Christmas calendars are so full it’s the only night we can fit it in.
When we drive past a house full of lights and decorations, we slow down – to take it in. This is what it is, to stop and smell the roses.
This is the time of year we forgive, we let go and we renew our hope.
We reflect, we give thanks and hold on to our family and friends just a little tighter.
We smile more, we relax more and we go to more parties and gatherings in one month than we do in all eleven that preceded it, combined. Its because at Christmas we celebrate not just the season, but we celebrate what it is to be alive and filled with things to be grateful for.
I don’t know about you, but December has always been my favourite month to be in a work place, everyone is more cheerful, they’re full of stories about the perfect gift they found for their grandchild, where they’re going on the weekend and as a whole, there is a sense of stronger togetherness.
We start to acknowledge strangers to be the same as we are, all with hopes, dreams, fears and weaknesses. We wish the cashier a lovely holiday season on our way out of the supermarket, we ask the lady in the department store if she has finished her Christmas shopping yet, as she helps us with ours and we allow people into our homes who wouldn’t normally have a place there in our busy lives.
A neighbour who you’ve spoken to once in ten years may have had a family tragedy this year and so they’re invited to spend Christmas with you at your house – because it’s what you do.
No one is left behind or made to feel alone. It’s the one time of year where people go out of their way to make their fellow man feel wanted, loved and understood.
For me, this is goosebumps stuff. What beautiful signs that the human race is still united and at the end of the day, still celebrates life and love altogether.
I acknowledge that not everybody celebrates Christmas in the traditional sense, there are lots of religions and cultures where December 25th is just another day; but they too have their celebrations, most of which are at the same end of the year.
So my Christmas (or end of year, for those who don’t celebrate Christmas) wish is that this is how we behave all year round. Why not decorate your house with beautiful things in March, make the effort to visit a neighbour and offer a homemade treat in July and play pretend games with the little people in your life whenever they ask you to – just like you do with Santa Clause in December.
Christmas is the yearly reminder we all get about being present in our moments, celebrating achievements and having hope for not just a new year, but a new day.
You don’t need to be religious to find the messages that Christmas holds for us all – it’s a little reminder that life is beautiful and it doesn’t need to be December for us to celebrate that.
Merry Christmas to you, and may the new year feel festive every day