There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. ~W.J. Cameron
I had visions of simplifying Christmas this year...helped inordinately by Singapore,Ditz'spox & the fact the boys are coming over late ~ & won't stay long. I wasn't even going to put up a tree.
"But where", wailed Liddy, "shall I put my presents?!" And put up the tree so she had somewhere to deposit all the things she doesn't want cluttering up her room.
Tradition has a strong grip on the heart & the imagination. Habits are hard to break. God has moved me so far to the left of centre I would be happy to let this season pass unmarked ~ & unmourned ~ but that journey is mine alone. The girls, who have shared so much of it with me this year, are still rooted in the Christian traditions of their childhood: tree, nativity, presents, Christmas pancakes, festival food. There is nothing wrong with any of these things.Except....I worked for a number of years as the house mother of a refuge for homeless youth & Christmas is the saddest time of the year. I'd have a houseful of kids 12~16 with nowhere to go & no expectation of receiving anything at all. Used to break my heart. One year we were a little more solvent than usual & I bought a dozen cheap K~mart mugs with a bag of lollies inside ~ one for each kid. You'd think I'd given them the moon.
That was the kids but there was a shelter for homeless men ~ always full ~ & the shelter for battered women [always full for Christmas] ~ & the one for the Aboriginal kids. So much sadness & it all comes to a head at Christmas. Christmas comes with ghosts. I always wonder where those kids are & how their lives turned out come Christmas. Did they turn their lives around? Did things get better? Did they recover from the drugs & the abortions & the sex? Did they make a better life for their kids & love them more? Or did they repeat the cycle of poverty & lovelessness? Did we make a difference at all? And one particular girl ~ not the brightest spark in the fire ~ a baby with the sweetest little baby but whose baby was horribly murdered by a boarder staying at their house. I never think of her without a pang.
The first year we shut the house at 10am as we were told to do because we had no funding to stay open for the day & turned our houseful of kids out onto the empty Christmas streets. We never did it again, arranging our Christmas at the house so we could stay open all day without pay...& every year there were more kids. Every year there are more kids. Kids with nowhere to go Christmas morning. Kids nobody wants. Kids with no expectations of receiving anything at all from anyone. I'm not even game to look up the stats on this one but hey, despite the recession we had to have Australians are spending more than they ever have in the shops. The retailers are looking a fat bonus in the eye. The bins out the back are full of food that won't keep over the Christmas break.
Is it any wonder I look at Christmas with a slightly jaundiced eye?