Thursday, December 23, 2010

Joyful - and yet sad Christmases too.

And so tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Are all the presents wrapped, the shopping done, the food ready and the house prepared for any visitors?
Well, I am afraid that as I write this on the 22nd, I have to say, “not all, not all and not all at our house.” Our dear daughter has arrived from Melbourne to be with us and she has been helping to put up the rest of the decorations. And cooking still has to be attended to as well as greeting emails to those we can’t send greetings through the snail mail this year.
I have been enjoying posts on this blog about Christmas celebrations in different countries and cultures. And perhaps it isn’t just the differences in a country but the differences in traditions of each family. Family traditions, family heritage plays a large part in the way we celebrate.

Christmas celebrations here in Australia vary according to cultural backgrounds. Now being as multi-cultural as we are, many do not keep to the British traditions as my parents and their parents before them did.

Experiencing two Christmases in England highlighted how similar our traditions are. My husband still says the one thing he enjoyed the most in England was the year we joined carol singers from a church. We walked around their village in the way we had in the past only read about. We sang, we were invited into homes for refreshments. And it was cold - and dark. Here in Tasmania it is still light at least until 9pm and the lights are not appreciated as much here in our summer evenings as in England.

Our first Christmas in Northampton, England was certainly different but enjoyed very much despite our rather weird looking little tree. The next year we were thrilled to host our son, daughter-in-law and a friend from Australia and were certainly better organised! However, although it would have been fun to experience a "white Christmas" we did expereince a "white New Year." I'm sure many are hoping the snow this year will be gone by Christmas!
I really love Christmas. I really love the gifts of family traditions, a mere symbol of the family love I've been privileged to experience every year as long as I can remember. However, when I saw that my contribution to our blog was to be the 23rd of December I knew I had to share something of the darkest, most unhappy Christmas I have ever experienced.
It was that date in December my dear father died after several weeks in hospital. I was in my mid-teens with an older brother and a younger sister and brother. Dad's funeral was on Christmas Eve. This means that every Christmas is associated with losing our dear father for whom Christmas meant so much. Because we had all been many miles away from home to be near Dad in hospital, there had been no chance to buy gifts, do anything at all towards celebrating Christmas.

But that was the year I remember the wonderful gift of having understanding, loving friends who insisted we go out to their little farm and share their Christmas. May it be that I too would grasp any opportunity to try and ease the pain of others who suffere as we did that sad year. It is certainly a reminder every year that for far too many folk around us, Christmas may indeed be not a "Happy Christmas."

Despite saying all of this, I also have to add that as the years have unfolded and I look back over not only those few days but events in our family since, not once has God failed us. Not once have we missed out on being surrounded not only by love for each other as we celebrate the birth of His dear Son, but filled to over-flowing by the joy, the peace, the comfort that only a loving Heavenly Father can give his children - at Christmas and every day through the year.,
I trust you each do enjoy a VERY Happy Christmas this year free of sadness.


  1. Yes, Mary, I remember caroling around the village the Christmas we spent in a thatched cottage in Great Tew. It was lovely, but we had never experienced DARK like that. The total black of no ambient light.

    Tonight we go caroling around our parish, with cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate back at the church.

  2. And heard this morning our Northampton at the moment is snow-bound so guess that will be making it very difficult for the carol singers this year. Trust you are enjoying your time, Donna.

  3. Because I have felt the loos of grandchildren, the holidays (especially Christmas) are always bittersweet. May you be comforted this season - even in the reminders - with what a special person your father was.

  4. God is always our comfort in so many and varied ways, Judith. I know you will find this to be true also.

  5. Thanks for sharing Mary. This Christmas has been a mixed bag of emotions for us: the need to have a "happy Christmas" with the traditional trimmings, for our two little grandchildren who are visiting, mixed with the sadness of watching our sister-in-law prepare to go Home to Jesus.

  6. Mary I always particularly enjoy your posts (not the least because I live so close to you...I'm over in Moonah), but this one touched my heart. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Dear Shirl, I know only too well your emotions at this time. It is wonderful that your sister-in-law is able to prepare to meet Jesus but we too have to prepare oursleves to let our loved ones go - in HIS time - and that is not easy. Praying for you.

  8. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Megan! Is Moonah the place near Hobart? I really would love to make contact with you as I know so few folk interested in Christian Fictin here in Tassie! You can email me through my website