It is only “one sleep” until the 25th December 2015 – the day many of us celebrate Christmas. All the children are getting very excited and it is the one night of the year that they seem more than happy to go to bed early! This makes many parents happy and joyful, an excellent entrée into getting into the festive mood of Christmas for tired parents. To enjoy tomorrow parents or grandparents should not stay up too late tonight as you may hear a little knock on the door at 5.00am. Yes, at that time it is daylight in Queensland! Tomorrow the sun is rising at 4.55am and there will be the patter of little feet running around many of the houses in our city.
One Christmas many years ago probably around 1962 my sister Susan and I woke up around the 5.00am time. We lived in Russell Street, Toowoomba in the Grand Hotel (just near the Railway line). It is now called the Norville Hotel. From our bedrooms we could walk out onto the balcony. My sister and I somehow knew that 5.00am was not a respectable time to wake our parents and our younger sisters Christine, Patricia and Debbie. We sat on the balcony floor and counted how many cars went by and chatted about what might be under the Christmas tree for about an hour or more. We knew there would be plenty of presents for all and although we could hardly wait, we knew we must!
On Christmas day there is a focus on presents. The real reason for this religious and cultural festival is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible story tells us that after Jesus was born wise men from the east bought gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh. Christmas then is an opportunity to give gifts and show love towards others. I don’t think many of us will be receiving frankincense and myrrh this Christmas but not so long ago I bought soap that had frankincense in it.
What I enjoy about Christmas and any other time of the year in gift giving is wrapping up the presents. Then seeing the joy on the face of another when they open the present is another aspect of the joy of giving. We don’t have to buy expensive presents. But if you can afford to buy expensive gifts, why not, go ahead! While this year I have promoted living simply it is often the simple and inexpensive presents that are the most valuable. At the turn of 19th century a simple gift may have been a ribbon for a child’s or loved ones hair or a handmade item sewn or whittled from wood. How very different is our world today.
We very rarely go grocery shopping on Christmas Eve but today we thought we would risk it and leave a few purchases until the last minute. All went well on our shopping expedition and we got some beautiful fresh prawns from Woolworths for only $24.00 kilo. I heard on the news earlier that people were paying $42.00 kilo at the Sydney Fish Market. I also hear that it is not all smooth sailing for many grocery shoppers this Christmas as they were let down by Coles and Woolworths. Just when they thought they had everything sorted. I read of one person who had a bad experience last Christmas only to line up and make the same arrangements with the same result this year. Read more about the story here.
It is disappointing when our Christmas lunch plans are disrupted but we are very fortunate in Australia as we have plenty of food choices. We are not like so many who are living in refugee and detention camps across the world. We have so much to appreciate and be thankful for. We can change the menu – chicken instead of turkey or ham instead of prawns or a BBQ sausage and onions.
This Christmas my reminder to myself is that while the presents are wonderful and bring much joy the more important part of showing others we care is to be “present” – our presence. Being present is that we give attention to those we love and care about. I need to be more conscious of being present and knowing that making eye contact, listening to another, taking another’s hand or a gentle touch on the arm or shoulder showing another that I am with them, taking notice and living in the present – right there with them in the moment. After all, being present is one of the best presents of all.