Last Christmas was largely anti-climactic. I am not really sure why it felt that way, I love the season so much that I realise I have high hopes but last year....blah. This year however, it feels like the city and it's suburbs are spreading the joy. The people are coming together for wonderful nights of feasting and celebration as they do every year, but this year there is hope in the air.
I have gone to the Christmas Carol night in Forest Gardens. What a lovely event that was. Held by the Rotary Club, it featured some fantastic singers, choirs and story-tellers. There was the obligatory fake candle to buy, softdrink to clear the throat for more warbling and chocolates on hand to top the whole thing off nicely. The crowd may not have been huge but it sure was passionate. There were families, elderly couples, single people and just about every demographic you could imagine represented. What a wonderful way to start the Christmas Season.
Edmonton Playgroup is a large group with close to 100 members. On Saturday I was privileged to host the annual Christmas Party where Santa was the star, the children all received gifts and the turn-out was spirited and enthusiastic. This group is made up of residents from all over the South Side, they are from every kind of background (socio-economic and cultural) and this year, they were all ready to jump right into Christmas. Again, a fantastic way to keep the spirit going this season.
There have been other events I have attended this December and plenty more to come and I am absolutely thrilled with the smiling happy people I am meeting on these occasions. I realise that for many, life is tough at the moment. Some are struggling to hold their heads above water, but it's through events such as these, with no or minimal costs, a large group of like-minded individuals and lots of excited children, that you begin to feel the magic of Christmas.
It's not about the presents, the size of them or the cost. It's not about which Religion you belong to or which you don't. It has not much to do with the big round tummy encased in Red that the man with the fake beard wears while shouting 'Ho..Ho..Ho'. It has absolutely nothing to do with a tree decked out in lights and the house that's now a fire hazard. It's not the songs, the food or the wine.
Christmas is all about the giving and the sharing and the hope. Giving the time to people who will appreciate every second you can spare. Giving a smile and a warm wish to those you meet throughout the next few weeks. Sharing a meal with people you love. Sharing a conversation with strangers who are all out with you, enjoying the lead-up to Christmas. Finally, its all about the hope. The hope that next year will be a better one. The hope that this year will end with a positive note. The hope that things will get easier and life will improve.
Those are the most important things at Christmas time. In the past week, I have seen plenty of giving, plenty of sharing...and most importantly, plenty of hope. Cairns is going to be just fine, just wait and see.