Sorry, I’m not sure why I wrote that.
Of course you do.
Why wouldn’t you?!
As a child I had the HUGEST belief in Santa.
And Christmas was a pure delight.
I drove Mum and Dad nuts because I would wake up soooooo early on Christmas morning to find out what Santa had left for my brother David and I. David was slightly (okay, massively) less interested than I, and despite my many attempts to drag him out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to share in My Christmas Glee, he always preferred to catch a few more zzzzzzzz’s instead.
I would run into the lounge room where our Gigantic Paper Sacks would be sitting filled to the brim with goodies that Santa had left. I’m making them sound like extra large brown paper lunch bags or something but they were glossy and white and stood 3-feet tall and had fabulous drawings of Santa on the front and well, they were just superb.
Despite my state of excited giddiness, I would kneel in front of my bag and very carefully pull gorgeously wrapped gift after gorgeously wrapped gift from it so as not to tear the bag, and I would neatly place my presents in a pile on the carpet.
The novelty of Christmas morning never wore off.
In fact, I’m pretty sure as I got older, I started getting up earlier and earlier – that will teach Mum and Dad for sending me to bed early on Christmas Eve with the warning that ‘Santa won’t be able to visit if I’m still awake’!!!! I bet parents wish they could use that line every night to get to their kids to go to sleep.
After neatly piling up my Items of Joy, I would patiently wait for everyone else in the house to finally get up so we could Open Our Presents.
Sorry, that’s not even slightly true. I would make lots and lots of noise until they all gave up their futile attempts to sleep in and came to join me.
My excitement level probably reached its peak once I’d opened a couple of presents and realised that Santa had indeed read my letters sent lovingly to the North Pole! (With a real stamp of course! A young girl’s love of Letterbox Joy has to start somewhere).
I particularly loved that he managed to survive his journey down our chimney despite the fact we changed from an open fire to a gas heater.
Santa must study engineering during the quieter months.
But how absurd to think that Our Dad could be The Santa.
It makes no sense whatsoever. Dad did shift work in a petrol refinery, he didn’t have time to fly around the planet with a bunch of reindeer climbing up and down chimneys.
Besides, he often worked night shift on Christmas Eve and we all know that’s when all the serious Santa action takes place.
I never did find out why David lied to me.
For some reason older people want younger peeps to Stop Believing in Santa.
But perhaps if we didn’t, there would be less consumerism at Christmas and people wouldn’t get quite so stressed.
To bring people together.
To encourage people to make something for their loved ones.
Or to do something for someone they love.
Or even better, do something for a total stranger.
A gift doesn’t have to be tangible to be extraordinary.
That way the families who don’t have any spare money for Christmas presents – and unfortunately that is more families than you can imagine – can still enjoy sharing the magic of Santa with their kids. Hugs are free and one size truly does fit all.
There is more than enough stuff in the world. We don’t need any more stuff.
And yet Christmas seems to have turned into The World’s Biggest Shopping Festival.
A nerdy stat I could barely believe is that in 2011, 2.6 billion dollars was spent around the world Just on Christmas Wrapping Paper.
On wrapping paper. The stuff that’s wrapped around the stuff that’s being given.
That just hurts my head.
And the environmental nerd in me starts wondering how much of that paper was actually reused or put in a recycling bin!
There is a Christmas tree in a hotel in Abu Dhabi which cost more than $11 million dollar - $10,000 for the tree, $11.5 million for the jewels (do they not have $2 shops in Abu Dhabi to pick up a bit of tinsel???!!!) and presumably the remainder is made up of the wages of the four security guards who constantly monitor the tree.
How incredibly ridiculous.
Imagine how much Good that $11.5 million could do around the world at Christmastime?
How many meals it could put on tables.
How many vaccines it could provide.
How much safe drinking water people could have access to.
How many schools could be built to provide much-needed education.
Not to mention how less stressed the people in Lands of High Consumerism would be.
It’s not mandatory to spend more money than you have on presents.
Presents for people who will also be spending money they don’t have to buy you something.
It just doesn’t make any sense.
If you can afford it, great. But if not, give hugs, write a letter telling someone how you feel about them, cook them a meal, make them a gift, re-gift something you received last year but didn’t love or use (yes, I’m a fan of re-gifting!) or simply spend time together.
It’s not mandatory to Spend a Fortune and Be Completely Stressed throughout the month of December.
It’s a choice.
A few years ago I was doing food shopping early in the morning on Christmas Eve and another customer in the fruit shop was completely wigging out on the phone at 7.15 in the morning! Oh my goodness, can you imagine how stressed she would have been by midday? I’m fairly certain her family would have had to sedate her at some stage throughout the afternoon.
And she made me want to leave the country and go and lay on a tropical island somewhere to get away from it all. You can feel the stress in the air around Christmas and there is a particularly plentiful supply in shopping centres as people frantically race around buying things and generally adding to their already high stress levels.
The spirit of Christmas seems to be trapped underneath all the wrapping paper.
One of my favourite Christmases ever was spent in Mexico. I flew over there on 6 December so I missed most of the Crazy Goings On in the Land of Consumerism which was absolutely wonderful, and it was so lovely to spend time in a country where dodgy fireworks were the norm (they were so cute… they pretty much fizzled out before they got very high in the sky!) and where joy permeated the air rather than stress. That year we drank beer on the beach on Christmas morning and had The Most Amazing Häagen-Dazs ice-cream ‘meal’ for Christmas lunch! It was definitely my kind of Christmas.
The first Christmas without her – just two and a half months after she died – I flew to Melbourne and was slapped in the face with just how different it was going to be. Dad hadn’t wanted to put the Christmas tree up and without Mum’s special little touches around the place, it didn’t feel like Christmas at all. It was so sad walking into the kitchen and not seeing Christmas tree-shaped bowls filled with Christmasy-shaped lollies and then walking into the lounge room and not seeing the familiar tree displaying decorations which had witnessed all of our family Christmases.
There were sooooooo many memories tucked inside those shiny little baubles which remained packed away in a cupboard.
I understood why Dad didn’t want to put the tree up but my heart broke a little bit more that day and I found it almost unbearable. It just wasn’t Christmas without her.
As it turned out, a new tradition hadn’t quite equated to a happy one. That day I vowed I would never spend another Christmas in Melbourne.
The next day, a gorgeously generous friend of mine put on another Christmas lunch for me – the whole shebang, turkey, pudding, presents, she thought of absolutely everything - and I sat at the table surrounded by her family with tears streaming down my face because I was so touched by the effort she’d gone to. To this day, it’s one of the loveliest things anyone has ever done for me.
A gift of the heart indeed.
Maybe some Christmas in the future I will. But not yet.
Friends have invited me to spend Christmas Day with them which is so very sweet but as much as I love them, I don’t feel that’s where I belong this year. So I am hopefully going to volunteer at a huge lunch held on the Sunshine Coast each year for the homeless and for people who don't have family to spend it with (or perhaps like me, they've decided not to spend it with their family for whatever reason). Christmas Day can be one of the loneliest or toughest days of the year for many people so it will be lovely to be part of something which brings people together.
I also have a little project I’m working on called ‘The Twelve Days of Karen-Joy-Mas’ which I was inspired to do after deciding to donate my gorgeous Christmas Tree (and decorations – you can’t give away a naked tree!) to a family who have been homeless for a long time. They’ve just moved into a house and I know they will get way more joy out of it than I will.
I have my own gorgeous little Christmas Tree and this is all I need.
And if parents say to their children ‘Santa is real if you believe he’s real’, then that’s not a lie is it?
My friend Holly has two beautiful little boys and her eldest son Max (he’s three) had the following conversation with his Mum recently:
Holly: Max why are you out of bed?
Max: Mum I am a bit worried about something.
Holly: What are you worried about mate?
Max: Well what if Santa can't find me at the beach house? Do you think he has a GPS?
After Holly assured him Santa and the reindeer have the most up-to-date GPS system on their sleigh, Max went back to bed. But he got up again later to tell Holly that they need to leave some gloves out for Santa so his hands can be warm when he gets back to the North Pole!
And if anyone ever tells you Santa isn’t real, just smile and nod and play along. Santa knows we believe in him and that’s all that matters.
I will leave you with My Very Favourite Christmas Quote from One of My Favourite Authors, Dr Seuss. And I shall post more about ‘The Twelve Days of Karen-Joy-Mas’ very soon!
‘And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.’ Dr. Seuss