The rebel in me

I pulled a muscle this morning somewhere near my heart and my left eye lid is twitching in that awful involuntary way, the way it does when I am over wrought.

Let me not complain too loudly of exhaustion, let me instead remark on a headline I read a couple of days ago. I did not have time or make time to read the article but the headline rang out to me in words to the effect, ‘Why Christmas should only happen in winter’, as if Christmas in the southern hemisphere in the heat and humidity is an aberration, at least that is how I read it.

A christmas tradition in our house, last years Christmas prawns on the barbeque:

The journalist may have written tongue in cheek but it annoyed me nevertheless.

Christmas is a human construction that began way back, presumably celebrated in places where it is cold in December and yet the nativity setting in Bethlehem has never struck me as particularly cold, at least not by day.

I cannot help myself, I keep rehearsing the days after Christmas, the days when I can settle into a constructive use of my time. Clean out my writing room and the spare room, sort out my tax for the year. Clear the decks in order to leave a space for writing.

For the past couple of weeks all eyes are directed towards Christmas and then in a blink it’s over for another year. Even now I feel pressure to go through the ritual of wishing everyone a happy Christmas, seasons greetings and all of those obligatory gestures, and yet inside something rails against this.

It’s not that I dislike Christmas. It’s not that I do not share in the customs. It’s more the sameness of it all, and yet it’s the sameness, the fact that most of us are busily launching ourselves into a state of frenzy in readiness for Christmas day that makes me want to rebel.

I have known people who refuse to participate. I imagine myself as one of them. I imagine myself into what it might be like during those several hours on Christmas day when the world, at least here in my part of suburban Melbourne, seems to come to a sort of standstill, especially throughout the prolonged lunch when people gather together every ten houses or so with others from their respective clans or friendship groups to celebrate in traditional and non-traditional ways. Here in Australia to be traditional – turkey plum pudding and the like – is to go against the temperature which begs for salads and cold cuts, but everyone, or nearly everyone is at it.

In my imagination I’m one of those who avoids Christmas, whether by choice or circumstance or through something imposed by others. What must it be like?

I wander through the streets alone, aimless. The shops are shut as if it were midnight. Even the twenty-four-hours-a-day supermarkets are closed. There’s only a skeleton staff at hospitals and in places where systems must keep on grinding in spite of Christmas cheer.

It offers an odd pleasure this opportunity to stand outside and look in, bitter sweet in some ways, for as much as in my imagination I miss out on the joys of Christmas and there are many, I am also spared the horrors, the tensions, the conflict.

Despite the journalist’s quip that Christmas should only happen in winter, Christmas happens in spite of the physical world in which we live and it will go on or not according to the dictates of people, not the weather.

And in spite of the rebel in me, I wish you all the best of the season, including a happy Christmas, if that feels right for you.

62 thoughts on “The rebel in me”

  1. Out in California things are beginning to change as the diversity of the population grows. You see more and more stores beginning to be open at least part of the day. Where I lived there were many Jews and Muslims and you seldom saw Christmas decorations in public places such as banks or hospitals. Of course, downtown San Francisco still makes a big to do of it since it involves money.

    Here in Oklahoma where there is very little diversity, Christmas remains Christian and as money oriented as always. I miss California. Ah well. Such is the season.

    Happy holidays to you and your family Elizabeth.

  2. Merry Christmas to you and your family and does it really matter what the weather is like when you celebrate Christmas. I reckon as long as everybody has enjoyed themselves that's the main thing :-).

  3. ha I know what you mean. I am so not into it this year and i"ve got to cook argghh! Bah humbug! I can't think of a thing to say except thanks for your blog and you and how comforting it is to picture you standing outside all the closed up shops all alone.

    happy christmas rebelling!


  4. Right back at you down under. I think you saw the Timothy Steele poem that I posted on my blog a couple of days ago. I imagine it would be a wonderful rejoinder to those who demand snow and cold for an "authentic" Christmas.

  5. I agree that Christmas Day has an atmosphere all its own and I am sure for those without a connection it might be quite un-settling.
    And despite how happy and bright my last comment may have sounded, I still do have probs buying gifts, Elisabeth, and I so wish it was not a part of the process. I also feel that the food traditions are slowly changing for more suitable menus.

    However, as I have aged (matured?) I have come to realise that routine and tradition (not just Christmas) may have a much more important role in our well-being than we give them credit for. When meaning is blurred or forgotten however, it makes for an onerous burden and well worth shrugging but I wonder if this disregard makes for lost and unanchored generations?
    There is a balance to be found in routine and whether we like it or not, every one of us has a routine somewhere in their day that makes sense of everything.
    But this is not the simple answer you were looking for I am sure. You are referring to the stresses and tensions of the 'one-day-of-the-year' madness and why must we bow to it?
    I don't have an answer and even I can feel it in my family to a degree, but overall there is an effort to strike a balance.
    As a nurse, I often spent the day working. Sometimes my husband would come and join us all for lunch. It was the happiest day on the ward. There just seemed to be a lightness and oddly, a freedom from routine and often the sickest person would be quite perky. Everyone seemed to make a special effort and the day would fly.
    My really favourite day of the year, though, is New Year's Day. I love putting my calendar in order and enjoying the lightness of knowing that whatever didn't manage to get done 'before Christmas' doesn't matter, and I am now free to start whatever project or task I had been putting off because I had to put Christmas planning first.
    This is quite a disjointed comment, Elisabeth. Please don't bend your brain trying to respond as I know you will, it really doesn't require one.
    FWIW – Season's Blessings.
    Karen C

  6. I’m not sure about where it is more Christmas, or not. The best Christmas I had was in St. John in the Virgin Island, floating around in the Caribbean Sea. My wife and I escaped the whole family affair. We were rebels?

  7. One of my best Christmas Days was spent not having Christmas. We went for a picnic to one of my favourite spots. As we drove, we came to a scene where two small children had raced out of their house because Santa had arrived to visit them. It was clearly a magic moment – one to treasure even though it was not mine. Rebelling against Christmas with all its obligations provides another view of it.
    Nevertheless have a delightful day and new year. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. When I was a kid, well, once I’d hit puberty and it ran away skriking for its mammy, I would go out wandering the streets on Christmas Day back in the days when the seasons weren’t all screwed up and it knew to snow on the day or there’d be trouble. I always felt terribly lonely knowing that in all these houses and flats there were families all huddled together playing at Christmas—yes, I was that kind of kid—but the fact is I could feel terribly lonely just about anywhere, anytime. I was out looking for inspiration, of course, because, back in the day, I believed that you had to be in a certain frame of mind to write the really great stuff (and, yes, in my arrogance I did think my stuff was really great) and so I would wander the streets trying to stimulate whatever organ in my body secreted the poetry. (I had ‘produced’, then I was going to go with ‘excreted’ considering the shite I was writing, but there’s something poetic about ‘secreted’ don’t you think?) I’ve never actually written a Christmas poem. I don’t think I’ve ever tried.

    Christmas isn’t the same anymore. Being a single dad for all bar the first couple of years of my daughter’s life we never got into the family Christmas thing. That only really happened once she was nearly eighteen and moved in with Carrie and me. Then we went overboard—big time. Completely overcompensated. When you came into our house there was a Christmas tree like they have on TV erupting out of a mound of pressies. And I loved it. I wished there was a birthday tree too. Now, as you know, she’s all grown up—she’ll be thirty-two next—married (didn’t see that coming) and has three Christmases to fit in every year as I expect is the case with an increasing number of people now that divorce is so common, three or even four Christmases. We always opt for the odd days, usually Christmas Eve, because we don’t really care. This year they’re coming over, well, next year, sometime after Carrie gets back from the States and I’m looking at the little pile of pressies sitting over by the TV and a sorry-looking lot they are. I still have a half-dozen to wrap cluttering up my desk but my heart really isn’t into it this year, not in the slightest.

    Like most of us I find the idea of an Australian Christmas a bit hard to imagine but I suppose it’s what you’re used to. I mean, seriously, what is Christmas like in Israel and Palestine? It’s us the UK that have it arse backwards. That said, I’ve just checked, and tomorrow they’re looking at about 48º in real money (centigrade is a total mystery to me) and cloudy in Bethlehem. That is, of course, ignoring the fact that Jesus was actually born in October but let’s not go there.

    I, too, will be glad when all of this is done. I usually do a mini-Spring clean when Carrie goes away but this year the place will get a lick and spit and it’ll have to do. Anyway I wish you and yours well and hope you have a nice time. Did that damn book arrive in time BTW?

  9. Christmas was invented in Victorian England by Charlie Dickens. Before he wrote his Christmas Carol there was no December 25th celebrations.
    Yes, it is TRUE. He chose the date. Why? Who knows. The "baby Jesus" was born months prior to December, according to all the scholars. Maybe May or June would be a better and more factual date for Xmas.
    Scrooge, with Alastair Sim is by far my favourite Xmas tale BUT I just wish Dickens had not chosen December! I really detest this month, with its cold, damp and very expensive costs. It causes so much stress to so many poor souls and makes the New Year a nightmare when all the bills for Xmas plop onto the hallway mat.
    No, Xmas is defo a Bah Humbug time.

  10. Dear Elisabeth, for me Christmas is magical and enchanting, it will be always special and I always view it with a very childish mind, full of joy and anticipation.;)
    I am sending your way some of that joy (perhaps it is contagious;) and wishing you and yours a lovely Holiday week.
    Thank you for all your wonderful visits in this past year.;))

  11. thank you for this, elisabeth. i like drifting through the streets with you…
    it's an odd year. somehow, i forgot to get a christmas tree or pine boughs or anything. and for the first time in years, i am calm, content.
    my son arrived home last night.
    we decided we'll go walking on the beach later, at low tide, find some driftwood, fashion a tree of it.
    that feels right.
    love to you. thank you for your rich, thoughtful writing, elisabeth.

  12. Christmas to me should be about giving and not receiving, and I find the almost total commercial concentration on Santa and presents increasingly repellent.
    Now that I live in a sort of atheist-free zone, I find myself contemplating the history and significance of Christmas, and enjoying all the wonderful music written and performed to celebrate it.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family.

  13. I can easily relate to your feelings— a few years ago, before the baby, before the partner, I lived smack in the middle of the U.S.— Saint Louis, far from relatives— part of me loved wandering the cold landscape, while others were inside with their love, their football, their melodramas. Gives one a stronger sense of self, of individuality.

    Look forward reading your words in 2012!

  14. I just watched a live performance video of Tim Minchin's "Drinking White Wine in the Sun" … a pleasant few minutes. Are you familiar with it? Minchin is Australian. The song lightly critiques Xmas and adds a little of the sweet rum of sentiment.

    Last year my husband was undergoing chemotherapy. This time of year always depresses him, more because of his birthday than because of Xmas. I found him a Tibetan singing bowl and we learned to make it pulse with its one note.

    Happy holidays!

  15. You need to give yourself a good talking to! Breathe deeply and relax girl there is just nothing in this world that can make Christmas perfect just bungle along and enjoy the gift of receiving for a change rather than giving all the time. And turkey schmerky a barbie is just fine for Christmas I would throw on the old snags as well just for good measure! A wonderful outdoorsie Christmas now thats what I miss!!!
    Have a good one Elizabeth 😀

  16. Merry Xmas Elisabeth. Oh Yeah! Xmas – family, love, joy. Envy, pain, family tensions. I love it in the most part but occasionally it explodes and i am part of the splatter. This was one of them but the details will remain discretely private.

    Maybe it's all part of the pageant of life – some parts of which one could do without. On the other hand some of themm have been sublime – reunions, genuine caring andd giving of more than gifts.

    I am an optimist. Enjoy 2012.

  17. i understand being on the outside of it. this year my children were with their father. this was the first christmas i have been alone in nearly 20 years. it was…a non-event except for the fact that i got to go out and walk in the forest, that i was released from the last minute bite down and anxiety of pulling it all together. true, i will still shop for my children before they come home. my son still believes in santa and thinks the tree is full, but it gave me great pleasure to not be pulled inside of the machine that society constructed. i get this, elisabth. i get it. but imagine, how could we stand alone on the outside of it if everyone else didn't stand together for this moment? how naive they are together, gathered around the tree. there is a beautiful innocence to this.


  18. Well, the journalist is clearly not very far thinking.
    What I love about Christamas is thinking especially of people I know and contacting them across the seas; that it is a time of reflection, a time of thankfulness for the year almost past – as there is always something that will become a joyous memory. I love seeing the lights and decorations (which here in Spain go up just a week or two before Christmas).
    What we (as a family) do not tend to partake in so much is the frenzy; what will be will be … and there is no need to rush and dash and to try to keep up. We have always kept it simple – which I think it is intended to be. It is easier here as it is less frenetic, so one is not so easily drawn in by the hype.
    I wish you peace in your heart, now, and in the coming year and I hope that your day was a day worth celebrating.

  19. I write from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Here, the drug stores and gas stations were all open on Christmas. More often than not Christmases here tend to be green (as it was this year) because even when you do get a snowfall (as happened a couple of days ago) it quickly melts as temperatures in December in the daytime are usually above 32 degrees (as it's been this December.) Really, at least here in Cleveland, Feburary would be the best time for a "white Christmas" as it's cold enough for the snow to stick on the ground, and, believe me, does it stick! What we do have in Cleveland this time of year is limited sunlight. Even if the temperature shoots up to a springlike 55 degrees, as it did about a week ago, it's still dark when the kids get out of school and most people leave work. That lack of sun is the real reason the holiday is on December 25th. Centuries before Jesus was born, the Romans celebrated the 25th as Saturnalia. The ancient Germanic people, before they converted to Christianity, celebrated a pagan holiday called Yuletide around the same time, a word that's since survived the conversion. The idea behind both holidays and others is simple distraction. Instead of being depressed at the lack of sunlight, you're excited.

    There's no evidence Jesus was born on December 25, and given all the pagan holidays on that day, it would be quite the coincidence if he was. The New Testament can't even make up its' mind why Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem in the first place (one gospel says a census, another says it was to escape the infantcidal King Herod. Bethlehem, incidentally, was King David's hometown, so it was important that the Messiah be born there, to fulfill a prophecy that the gospel writers damn well knew needed to be fulfilled)

    Since there's no snow in Australia, and your summer is the North's winter, you are, my dear Elisabeth, a victim of European imperialism. After all, Australia, like the USA, is an offshoot of the British Empire. And Britian itself was once a colony of the Saturnalia-celebrating Roman Empire. But don't despair! Whether the sun is out or not, whethet there's snow on the ground or not, whether you believe Messiahs were born in Bethlehem or not, "Peace on Earth, good will to men" is always a worthwhile motto. Too bad everybody only seems to care about it one month out of the year.

  20. It sounds as though you've seen several versions of Christmas in your time Rubye Jack. Mine turned out better than I had expected. I hope yours was good too, despite it's not being in California.

    Thanks, Rubye Jack.

  21. Everyone among my family and close friends who shared christmas with us seemed to enjoy themselves, Windsmoke, in spite of the amazingly changeable weather we endured that day.

    Thanks and I hope you enjoyed your day too, Windsmoke.

  22. I didn't have to cook, Jane, so much as operate as sous chef and general clean up person of all the mess after the event. Still, Christmas Day proved much better than I had expected and now it's all over, I can sigh with relief.

    I hope your day cooking wasn't too onerous.
    Thanks, Jane.

  23. I agree with you and Timothy Steele, Elizabeth. There's a lot more to an 'authentic' Christmas – at least in terms of our expectations – than snow and weather.

    Thanks, Elizabeth.

  24. I'm glad we share some things in common, Unknowngnome, however grumbly we might seem.

    Despite my complaints though, I hope your Christmas, like mine was better than expected or at least good enough.

    Thanks, Unknowngnome.

  25. I agree with you, Karen, about the importance of ritual and of tradition to add meaning to our lives . And you're right in assuming my complaint has more to do with the obligations and commercialisation of our lives, especially at times such as Christmas.

    I do not find your commend unwieldy at all. And I'm grateful for your seasons greetings. I wish season's greetings to you, too, Karen and thanks for your time here. Let's meet online again in 2012.

  26. Floating around Virgin Island in the Caribbean sounds wonderful, Anthony. One day we shall rebel, too but I can't see it happening for a while.

    I hope that in whatever circumstances you found yourself this Christmas, Anthony, it was enjoyable. Thanks.

  27. A Christmas that's not Christmas in the traditional sense might well be enjoyable, Christine, if you plan it that way. Sounds like you did here.

    I hope this years Christmas, however traditional or otherwise, was equally enjoyable.

    Thanks, Christine

  28. I must say I've never tried Christmas in July but I know of others who have and it seems an odd experience by all accounts, River. I for one prefer christmas when it falls due, even though I know it's artificial. Someone chose this tome, some time back and it could just as easily fall in August or May or whenever.

    Force of habit makes it seem essential in December. I hope you had a happy day.

    Thanks, River.

  29. I must say I've never tried Christmas in July but I know of others who have and it seems an odd experience by all accounts, River. I for one prefer christmas when it falls due, even though I know it's artificial. Someone chose this tome, some time back and it could just as easily fall in August or May or whenever.

    Force of habit makes it seem essential in December. I hope you had a happy day.

    Thanks, River.

  30. I think that I too spent years overcompensating at Christmas time with my children because of the miseries of my childhood, Jim, but those miseries were not like yours. I could only imagine walking the lonely streets like you but I shared that sense of trying to go off by myself in search of inspiration.

    I too , as you know, fancied myself as a poet. I sought inspiration in 'nature', and I could convert the boring concrete and bricks of suburbia into a natural wonderland simply by wishing it were so.

    I sought out deserted building blocks, half constructed houses and the abandoned market gardens as my paradise away from the traffic and noise. It was never enough, it seems to me now, to inspire great poetry but at least I could dream.

    I hope your Christmas day was not too lonely this year, Jim. It sounds sad for you without Carrie. For all the tensions of family, I prefer them to be near. And as I've written to others in comments above, my Christmas proved to be good, more relaxed than I had imagined and at last it's over.

    We travelled to my husband's family in the country for our last serve of plum pudding. My sister in law plants silver coins and tiny porcelain babies in the pudding and makes sure that the young women ready for children get at least one porcelain baby in their serve.

    It's family joke especially as over the past two years we have produced four new babies and another on the way through the next generation. It's a lovely tradition to me, however we do not take it too seriously.

    Thanks, Jim.

  31. I've mentioned your idea that Dickens invented the December date for Christmas through his Christmas Carol, Philip and folks here say 'bah humbug'.

    I ought to see what old man Google says. Somewhere there might be the 'truth' as you say of when Christmas began and of why it falls as it does on 25 December.

    I can understand that you might prefer it happen at a warmer time. Come to Australia and sample our warm Christmas days. I think you would enjoy them.

    Thanks, Philip.

  32. I could only imagine that you of all people, Zuzana, would find Christmas anything but magical and enchanting. It's in your nature, I'd say, to see the best in everyone and everything.

    That said, I hope your Christmas was wonderful and thank you for sending your wishes of joy my way. Perhaps they helped, because Christmas for me turned out to be pretty good this year after all.

    Thanks, Zuzana.

  33. Ah, Susan, a drift wood Christmas decoration or tree from the sandy seaside sounds splendid, so much better than the pines and plastic that might also serve to cheer us up.

    I'm glad to hear that, despite all your tardiness in preparing for a traditional Christmas, you reman calm, Susan. I hope you had a great day, as did I.

    And thanks for your kind wishes. May I reciprocate and offer my good will towards you.

  34. Thanks for your good wishes, Persiflage. I'm glad, despite your recent loss, that you can now enjoy the Christmas of your choice through its music and traditions.

    I too hate the commercialisation that makes it hard at times to recognise other much more important and significant aspects to to traditions such as Christmas.

    Thanks, Persiflage.

  35. Sometimes standing on the borders of life and looking on as you describe, David, can offer exquisite however painful perspectives we might not otherwise enjoy.

    I hope, now inside the bosom of family, at least by the sound of things, that you enjoyed the day, as did I in the end.

    Thanks, David. I, too, look forward to our encounters online throughout 2012.

  36. A pulsing Tibetan singing bowl, Glenn, sounds like a wonderful christmas present for your husband. I can understand his reservations given the time of year and the memories.

    I had not heard of Tim Minchin's song, until you mentioned it and then it popped up on face book, too. I think it's lovely.

    Thanks, Glenn, and a happy time of the season to you.

  37. We had an outdoor Christmas Rose, until the rain tumbled down and forced us indoors midway through proceedings. But the weather did not spoil a thing.

    Thanks for your pep talk and good wishes. I can understand that you might miss an outdoors Christmas. It is pretty special.

    Thanks, Rose, and all best wishes of the season to you, too.

  38. I'm an optimist, too, Little Hat, though I may not always sound that way in my blog.

    I hope the difficult events of christmas to which you allude weren't too bad and will not have too many far reaching consequences.

    In any case, I admire your optimism and I'm with you on the bittersweet of those Christmas tensions : all that passion, love and hate that helps make the world go round.

    Merry Christmas to you, too, Little Hat, and thanks.

  39. A beautiful innocence, indeed, erin, as you say for those gathered together around the tree while others look on from the periphery. I'm glad that your first Christmas alone after twenty years was not too painful.

    My mother could not bear to spend hers alone and so one of my sisters went to huge trouble to include her with her family. This same sister who had also spent Christmas alone after she and her husband had separated after many years of marriage.

    My sister tells me these were the worst of days, these first Christmases alone, but now she manages them differently. I have never spent christmas alone. I have always enjoyed a wealth of company and maybe for this reason I dare to complain.

    I'm not sure how I would go alone at this time. I admire your ability to endure.
    Thanks, erin.

  40. Keeping things simple seems like a good idea, Aguja, but it can be difficult when people's versions of what is simple can be so complex.

    Still we try and we have enjoyed this Christmas more that I expected.

    Thanks for your good wishes and the best of the season from across the seas to you, too, Aguja.

  41. There are not many shops open here on Christmas day, Kirk, though service stations and some milk bars, your drug stores, stay open for a few hours early in the day.

    I can understand the reasoning by our forebears who chose to celebrate at this dark time of year. for us christmas accompanies our summer so we find it even more celebratory because it's followed by the longest holiday period of the year right up to the end of January.

    Once we're past the hoopla of Christmas we can all relax and most of us do.

    Thanks, Kirk and best wishes of the season to you.

  42. It's funny, because I've just had a Christmas in winter but we also managed to escape all the fuss and stress by going to a skiing resort and having it catered. Both winter and fully-catered have a lot going for them!

  43. I find it sad that a lot of people are so stressed about Christmas that they lose the joy of the season. Personally, I love having a couple of days "off" when I have an excuse to do nothing but bake and play games and hang out with my family. In any case… I hope you'll have some fun times, even if it isn't by celebrating Christmas 🙂

  44. I like the quiet on Christmas Day when the stores are shut. I imagine people home with families, enjoying time off. I like to think of happiness and not about selling or buying. Quiet like after a snow fall is what Christmas night is like.

  45. I have to admit to utter ambivalence about Christmas: I dislike, intensely, this call to merriment, overfeeding/eating, and overspending, but also feel that if we didn't have it families wouldn't have an excuse to stop work for a few days and get together.

    I hope you had a good one, after all, Elisabeth, and managed to rebel a little too. I rebelled by not making a trifle; how small is that?!

  46. I've read your most recent post, Kath and although you sing the praises of a wintry Christmas and one away from home and therefore away from your family traditions, I wonder about whether the experiences you've had on the slopes don't compare to the usual trauma.

    I think I'd almost rather stay at home. But that's just me maybe, a bit of a coward. Thanks, Kath.

  47. For you Rachel, Christmas may be a couple of days off, for us it's the beginning of a long hot summer holiday and all this entails.

    Perhaps it's the combination: Christmas, New Year's Eve and Day, and finally summer holidays climaxing in Australia day on 26 January that adds to the tension. Anyhow, as much as I complain I also enjoy the season. Best wishes for it.

    Thanks, Rachel.

  48. The quiet of Christmas time is such a treat, Syd. I enjoy it too but it can disappear quickly. I went to the shops this afternoon and was surprised at how busy they were even as late as six o'clock as if everyone had stayed away over the compulsory christmas break and suddenly there they all were, back again replenishing their deleted stores.

    It seems you've been reading back through my blog and leaving your wonderful comments. I'll try to get back to each one of them in time. Thanks Syd, and best wishes for the season.

  49. I had a god Christmas after all, Eryl. Over time it seems to get better ad better in my memory.

    How rebellious of you, to neglect to prepare the trifle. I must say I enjoy a trifle but it's been years since I ate one.

    I hope you did not cop too much of a rebuke for neglecting your duty. Greetings of the season.

    Thanks, Eryl

  50. I thought of how I had missed to wish you the obligatory season's greetings etc. 🙂

    In Malaysia, there are so many holiday celebrations that we just celebrate them all. We prepare for our big celebration in the fasting month, and so we do our shopping and eating out at night, night prayers etc., while we fast. Don't think there is much stress but instead the preparation is the most celebrative time, but then who knows.

  51. I love Christmas – in the cold. Here in NZ it's a chore. In the UK it was a welcome fuzz of heat and light and food and song in the midst of the winter solstice. Summer doesn't need it.

    But happy merry new year to you, Elisabeth 🙂 I loved your olive tree idea – may try that next year!

  52. Bit by bit and year by year I've pruned the whole Christmas season down to the traditions that are most meaningful to me, and this year it was truly well-trimmed. The only thing I missed, apart from the departed beloved family members, was the Christmas Eve church service. But the fact that God was in my heart did not escape me and made the missing of services acceptable.

    All that was required was permission from my own self to cease doing, just for "this year" (whichever year I suspended a given activity), those things that are laborious and less treasured. I made certain to discuss the choice with those dearest to me, such as my husband and grown daughter. If they couldn't bear the loss, then that activity was retained BUT with their active participation. It has really worked out very well.

  53. Your version of celebrations during this festive time sound well balanced, Lisa. Fasting alongside preparations for celebrating and I presume some form of gift giving sound ideal. I hope you enjoy yourself over the season. Thanks Lisa.

  54. Summer doesn't need the extra heat, Rachel, does it? Hence as you say, the greater buzz of Christmas in the UK.

    But our climates, yours and mine, have their advantages. Happy festive season and thanks.

  55. It sounds as though you've pruned your Christmas down so well that now it bears better fruit, Chris. That's my aim, in time and with help.

    Permission to change our ways is something we often need from one another. It helps us get over those internal hurdles, the bad habits of a lifetime.

    Thanks Chris and all best wishes for the season.

  56. I am so glad you found my culture blog. I enjoyed reading this entry and have to tell you abhor this materialist frenzy which calls itself a Festival. I enjoy many parts of Christmas but I am very saddened by the plasticness which wraps so many components.

  57. Thanks Cuby poet. I've been meaning to thank you for your comment here. Christmas now seems so far away and such a long time for the next one to come. After New Year, they've already started to sell stuff for Easter. They give us no time.

    Thanks too for the link to your other blog, I'll get over there now.

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