A small but characteristic church (above picture) can be seen along George Street, Sydney CBD, for Christmas. Liz, the person I also enjoy chattering to at my local petrol pump, mentioned about having to prepare so much in time and effort, ostensibly just for an apparent one hour gathering with family at Christmas time. I mused about this whilst sipping Absolut vodka and orange juice in the glow that happens on the eve of the festive holidays. After the so-called season is over, each of us gets back to so-called routine and regime, or better still, embark on new adventures and initiatives.
Jews light the candles in commemoration of the successful retaking over of a significant temple and this occasion is still faithfully recalled in Hannukah. Most of human festivals recall the triumph over challenges and difficult times, many celebrate charismatic figures and often relate so much to the turning of the planet Earth and its impact on its denizens. Modern day festivities may sometimes have been called by different names in previous epochs. It may be in the human persona and make-up that we need to gather, regather and reflect. Commerce may have hijacked part of this inherent ritual by the layers of purchasing, night parties, restocking and supposed customs, but once any one pulls away such ostentations like the Christmas tree, one may rediscover the possibly true meaning of such occasions. Image below, from the Strand Arcade in Sydney CBD, December 2011.
All that glitters may not be true gold. Beneath the shiny baubles, each of us has to manage the reality, navigate the journey to realise the dream and enjoy the sights along the way. At the same time, festivals remind us to think more of others. It is true that we have to put our own house in order before we can meaningfully relate to others, especially special ones. To me, I believe that is a concurrent journey, and my own experience is that I learn and receive so much more from other human beings when I reach out to them in a positive way.
Festive occasions also offer an opportunity to get away. Away from our day to day runs. To have the pleasure to dream again. To do the things we find we may otherwise not have the time for. One can literally get away physically, but one need not to. More importantly, it is the occasion to be able to immerse yourself inside your heart, and your heart will show the way forward.
A summery Christmas season in Australia offers opportunities for cutting down the sugar fix and balancing with fresh cherries, bananas and lychees. Thee last mentioned three fruits echo the various climes in which I have lived through, and to consume them at year's end can be symbolic of recalling the fruits of personal labour and conviction, the love of immediate family plus other relatives and the support of mates and close friends. Christmas fruit pies (picture above from Out for Lunch, Wollongong NSW) may be eaten only once a year, but the meaningful relationships each of us have are more reliable to the nourishment of both our heart and soul. And for us to be grateful about them.