Archive for December, 2011

The silly season is upon us once again, transforming regular grocery shopping trips into enduring the gauntlet of Christmas shoppers (often with young children in tow) en-mass in shopping centres, filling usually available parking – simply exacerbating the ordeal.

But this is just an accepted part of what is advertised as the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas, as it has become, is now more an annoying distraction. Yes it is nice to use this time to remember the year that has past, to reflect on the human condition, and how each of us adds or subtracts from those around us, but the rapacious gluttony that captures the population as December passes is breathtaking when juxtaposed against what the season is supposed to be about. “Good will to all”…. Just as long as there is plenty for me.

What is it that we get at Christmas?

At a tactile level, the food will be eaten, that which is not, will be discarded. The presents that are given will either be spent, used up, put away, or be broken and forgotten, or they will be returned for refund, or discarded, and only sometimes will a present have greater relevance and longevity for the receiver. In other words, one Christmas’ presents will often have no level of meaning by the next Christmas, if they still exist at all.

I use the word ‘present’ to describe that, which is bought and given at Christmas, rather than ‘gift’, which is simply given of the person to another. Such a gift is usually intangible, often ephemeral (or lasting just a moment) but its memory and meaning can remain pristine and clear for a lifetime. It may be an act of kindness, a smile, or just memories of different (or happier) times. A present is given for the present. A gift is just given – anywhere, anytime, from (and to) anyone.

Last week would have been my sister’s 50th birthday. Tomorrow will have been my younger brother’s 44th birthday, and Australia Day next month will have been my older brother’s 52nd birthday. I cannot remember how long it has been since any of us exchanged Christmas presents, but over the last (almost) eight years since the first of my siblings passed, I have become increasingly aware of the gifts they had given me. They had not bought me any Christmas or birthday presents for many years, but had given a lifetime of gifts, of which I am deeply grateful.

It is especially at Christmas that I reflect on the gifts that I have been given, and I hold tight to those precious yet indestructible gifts, lest I forget those who gave. These gifts are both from them and are them, for it is in these gifts that lives the very essence of who they were, and through their gifts, who they remain.

I wish you peace and happiness at Christmas. May you reflect well on what you have, what you have been given, and the gifts you give others every day.


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