Christmas is and always has been my favourite time of year. I love everything about it, from mince pies to Midnight Mass, every little aspect works together to build that magical feel that you either love or hate. Christmas lights in particular have always captivated me. I remember going for long walks with my dad as a small child and seeing the trees flashing through the lounge room windows. To this day my heart still skips a little when I see a beautiful Christmas tree.
I suppose our feeling about Christmas are largely moulded by our childhood experience. Despite coming from a less than affluent family, I have only ever had wonderful memories of Christmas. It is only now that I see that maybe our lack of money and material possessions was what made us so appreciative of that one day in the year when the food was rich and the fridge was full, and it seemed like we were the luckiest kids in the world. I know now that there were some years that my parents struggled to pull the whole Christmas thing together, the expensive presents that they couldn’t really afford and the treats that lined our stockings, but there was not once that we as children went without and knew of the small miracle it had taken to make the day special.
This year in particular, after a few personal setbacks I have struggled to get into the Christmas Spirit. On Monday I dragged myself to the shops to do the final food shopping for our Christmas Dinner. When I returned home and unpacked the endless sea of shopping bags I was left feeling empty, and nowhere near close to my usual Christmassy self. I looked around my kitchen and my pantry and felt nothing. There was nothing ‘special’ about what I had just bought, because nowadays our fridge is always full and our wallets are always lined, 365 days of the year. In comparison to the struggles of our childhood, we are in a privileged position. I remember my mum coming home with the Christmas shopping and be amazed by the chocolates, mince pies, gherkins and pickled onions…all little luxuries that were only afforded at Christmas time. I felt a sense of sadness that my children would never know that excitement because our lives our now full of little luxuries on a full time basis. I felt guilty that our children have ice-cream most weeks, and Babycinno’s at the local café. I want more than anything for them to have empathy for those who don’t have, and to know that things in life don’t come easy.
I know that as a parent you want better for your children. A large part of us immigrating to Australia, was so my parents could provide us with more opportunities, and therefore be in a more desirable situation that they had found themselves in. You want for every generation to have come along a little but further than the last. Our humble upbringing and some very supportive parents encouraged us to strive for more and to be more, and we did and I hope our parents are proud of this.
Those of you that know me well, know that I hate being indebted to someone, and I can honestly say that everything I now have, I have worked for and paid for myself from my first house at 21, several terrible choices in cars and the clothes I am wearing. I think this is what my parents wanted for us. If you have always had everything handed to you on a plate, there is no sense of loss or value when it is gone, or as they say ‘easy come, easy go’. Don’t get me wrong, I am also not here trying to have a battle of the have and have nots. I am quite certain that if I am in the blessed position to do so, I will also try to give my boys a solid beginning, because every little helping hand is a head start, but I want them to know the value of a ‘struggle’. I want them to know the feeling of wanting something that you just can’t have until you work for it. I want them to appreciate the chocolate in our kitchen and the lollies in the jars. I want them to feel the magic of Christmas, but not the greedy kind, the innocent kind…when getting an apple and orange in your stocking was a treat. (err yeah thanks mum and dad)
Not only did my upbringing teach me 101 meals to make from ‘bread, tomato sauce and peanut butter’ but it has defined and shaped my character. I was always ashamed to say where I was from during my uni years, as every time I did, judgement would follow. Now I realize the only thing they should have been thinking was …..Shit she had to work a hell of a lot harder to get here, and how did she get through high school in those terrible ‘no brand sneakers?’
I know in reality my children will never truly share our experiences, but a little bit won’t hurt. So as of the 1st of January there will be a few changes around our place, just to remind us all how lucky we are. If we have love, food and family….we are doing okay.
Watch this space.
Merry Christmas Everyone