Merry Christmas Eve-Eve!

It’s Monday! It’s December 23rd, which makes it the Eve of Christmas Eve!

Hooray!!

And not only that, it’s school holidays for the next six weeks or so. It’s Summer (apparently). And it’s time to sort out the truckload of stuff my kids have brought home from the end of their school year.

So I’m just gonna take a minute today to wish you all a wonderful, very merry Christmas. Thanks so much for reading, for checking in, stopping by, for making the world a smaller and friendlier place with me.

Have a lovely day. And, in the words of your drunk uncle dressed as Santa waving his can of beer, “I love yers orrl!”

 

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The snow ideal

We went to the local Carols by Candlelight on Saturday night.

Carols by CandlelightMy girl sang with her school choir, which of course made me cry. I snuggled in my camping chair and cheered on the dancing girls and sang some carols, and we bought junk food and said hi to people and marveled again at how everybody seems to know everybody else in Tasmania. We went home at half past eight while it was still broad daylight, even though I’d only sung a few carols really and it was still nowhere dark enough for people to light their candles. I was tired. It’d been a big day.

It’s occurred to me a lot over this Christmas lead-up season that part of what we enjoy as part of our celebration of anticipation (think about that one) isn’t part of our Christmas at all: snow. We love snow! We all send Christmas cards (well, if we have school age kids then THEY send Christmas cards) with pictures of snowmen and snowy windows with candles in them, and small children playing in the snow. It’s a particularly Northern-Hemisphere thing, yes, but we love it. We all dream, somewhere in the deep recesses of our brains, of having a White Christmas.

And candles. We love candles! All across Australia it seems we love our Carols by Candlelight, and we huddle up in our parkas and light our candles and eat our picnics and sing Christmas carols about…snow. It’s as much part of Christmas tradition as Boxing Day cricket and planning a camping trip over New Years’ Here in Tassie, because we’re so far south, it didn’t get dark until nearly 9pm on Saturday night so we have to wait a fair while to  experience the magic of those candles (oh, oh! Priceless anecdote…at our Church Christmas celebration service yesterday all the kids sang Silent Night holding plastic battery-powered candles, and one little boy discovered the magic of how when you put it up your nose and turn it on it makes your nose glow. Yeah!), and on my way home I thought about my Northern Hemisphere friends, and how early it would be dark for them at this time, and how much they must love coming around for the evening with all their community in their local parks and pulling out their picnics and camping chairs and singing carols around their candles…in the snow.

And then I got it.

Snow doesn’t make my Northern Hemisphere friends feel festive at all. From what I can tell it makes them feel cold and miserable. Snow is cold. Sitting around on a camping chair at the local park at eight thirty at night is cold, and it’s SUMMER! Most of my Northern Hemisphere friends, it seems, view snow as some kind of awful endurance experience, and seem to dread its coming. Not here.

It never occurred to me before that Carols by Candlelight may be a particularly Australian tradition. Is it? It may never have occurred to my Northern Hemisphere friends (except for the ones I’ve stayed with who have witnessed me lose my head in joy over the white stuff falling) that snow is some kind of idealised Christmas dream in Australia (only on the 25th though thanks. We want it to be hot again on Boxing day so we can have a barbecue and watch the cricket thanks very much). Snow is something we anticipate, even though the reality is something quite different. Much like a young girl who dreams of wearing stiletto heels, until, as an adult, she has to wear them for hours at a time and longs to kick back in her sneakers like when she was a kid.

I know this. I still don’t care. I still love snow at Christmas.

What about you? Have you ever idealised something only to find out that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? Do you dream of a White Christmas too, or do you think that just for once a Christmas in Summer would be rather grand? Happy Christmas my friends, wherever you are!

The kids at church singing Silent Night. You can't see the candle-up-the-nose from here though :)

The kids at church singing Silent Night. You can’t see the candle-up-the-nose from here though 🙂

 

A little bit of honesty never went astray

There seems to be a lot going on at the moment around me. Not just the usual stuff, Christmas and shopping and end of school and general December madness, but big stuff. Death, illness, uncertainty. Tragedies that break my heart, that I have no easy answers for, especially when we’ve experienced the opposite–such blessing and abundance around us. I have friends who are hurting. There are no easy answers, or if there are, the answer is “sometimes things just suck”.

Where’s the hope and joy and peace when people you love are being ripped from you?

Where’s the blessing of the virgin birth and the miracle of baby Jesus when there are children left without parents, and parents left without children? How do you “ho ho ho” when it takes all your strength to get out of bed in the morning and make breakfast without breaking down again?

I tried to put on some Christmas music yesterday. Took it off again. Put on something less hopeful, less joyous.

So this morning, this post is for those friends, the ones for whom life is making no sense at Christmas. The ones whose trees are shrouded in grief. The ones who are struggling to wrap presents because everything seems so futile. This is my little attempt to share in your sorrows, and, instead of offering platitudes of “God is with you, go and be well”, sitting in the dirt with you for a few minutes and saying “I understand”.

Here is my small offering. It’s the one part of the Bible I refused to read for a number of years when I was younger: Psalm 22. The one right before the one that everybody knows.

“God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning. And you! Are you indifferent, above it all, leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise? We know you were there for our parents: they cried for your help and you gave it; they trusted and lived a good life. And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm, something to step on, to squash. Everyone pokes fun at me; they make faces at me, they shake their heads: “Let’s see how God handles this one; since God likes him so much, let him help him!” (that’s from the translation called The Message, by the way).

Life can suck. And it can suck especially when Christmas is just around the corner. If it sucks for you today, I just want to let you know that I hear you. It’s okay to be honest about how you’re really feeling. Hang in there, okay?

I love an Aussie Summer

This week I don’t care if it’s nearly Christmas. I have to shop and I have to plan, and much as I love my family and much as I love celebrating the birth of Jesus, this week my mind has been thoroughly transfixed by the closeness of the glowing orb in the sky.

I’d forgotten how much I love Summer!

Beach picnic

Day at the beach

How can you not love Summer when you live in a city where there are more beaches than there are highways, and most of them are so close you could be there before the kids stopped arguing as to which one had the better waves?

Sandcastles

The sand-turtle-dinosaur

We even found this little guy. A rare species indeed.

An Aussie back yard Summer

An Aussie back yard Summer

…to top it all of with this. The grass so dry and prickly you need thongs on to play soccer in the back yard, and the sprinkler attachment from the hose eaten sometime over winter by the lawnmower, and a zillion favourite childhood memories of paddling pools and icypoles in plastic packets dripping syrup down your t-shirt and nothing else to do but laugh and play.

What about you? What are your best summer memories? Are you looking forward, like I am, to a long hot January? Apologies, of course, to all you Northern Hemisphere folks. This is what Christmas is like down under!