Pay, Pack And Fol­low Christ­mas Hope For A Self­ish Soul

A travel junkie since she was six months old, Drusilla Gillen spent 20 years as a suc­cess­ful gar­den de­signer, mar­ried an Army of­fi­cer and now indulges her twin loves of writ­ing and travel

Expatriate Lifestyle - - December - Women’s Cen­tre for Change Pe­nang, 241 Jalan Burma, Pe­nang Tel: 04-228 0342 wc­

“Dar­ling, do you love me?” Tilt­ing my chin for a kiss, I no­ticed a wor­ried look upon the hus­band-person’s face. His eye­brow rose and I was left to jus­tify my­self against its silent en­quiry.

It wasn’t my fault…i’d walked past one of Fuan Wong’s glass sculp­tures and fell in love. Un­able to jus­tify buy­ing it my­self, for I don’t need it, I dropped a tiny hint for my Christ­mas present…and hus­band-per­sons are pants at choos­ing presents any­way.

Sat­is­fied with the suc­cess­ful ma­nip­u­la­tion of one spouse and ap­proach­ing the sea­son of good­will to all men, I be­gan to won­der – I was get­ting what I wanted for Christ­mas, but was it what I needed? My Mother-theMa­tri­arch was of that wartime gen­er­a­tion that un­der­stood the dif­fer­ence be­tween want and need, both phys­i­cal and men­tal.

And un­der­stand­ing what your real needs are will help you iden­tify what’s im­por­tant. Hav­ing just proved, with my pout­ing for a glass sculp­ture, Christ­mas is too of­ten about phys­i­cal want; when we fi­nally un­der­stand our needs, we re­alise what brings health, hap­pi­ness and well-be­ing.

Women, if they’re lucky, turn into their moth­ers. In my case it’s mi­nus the smoking, con­sump­tion of whiskey and ob­ses­sion with hedge­hogs. Mine ap­proached Christ­mas smugly singing “Hur­rah! Ev­ery­thing wrapped and ready to go. Thrice Hur­rah!” Stock­ings were filled, the house was decor ated and she’d have popped a tray of mince pies in the oven too. Then she’d have a Christ­mas ‘dram’, for she was Won­der Woman and in­fused with fes­tive joy.

I’m head­ing to­wards my reg­u­lar Christ­mas Melt­down. Noth­ing is wrapped, the stock­ing filler s have van­ished into the ether, there are eleventy-bil­lion pounds of fruit to cram into Christ­mas cakes. And alarm­ingly, I don’t know where I hid the Qual­ity Street. I can’t even be 100 per cent be sure I didn’t eat them all af­ter a few gins last Fri­day. I have a mon­ster of a turkey need­ing var­i­ous things shoved up its rear and for some rea­son I ap­pear to be in pos­ses­sion of ev­ery parsnip east of the Suez. There are how­ever no sprouts, as they’re the work of the Devil.

Christ­mas should be a time to re­mem­ber those who do not en­joy the ben­e­fits of peace and pros­per­ity. So I went off to chat to the beau­ti­ful and witty Rachael Day who, frus­trated and un­ful­filled by her daily rou­tine, asked her­self: “What am I do­ing for oth­ers?” She re­alised she needed to “con­tribute to her wider com­mu­nity”.

Se­cretly I envy peo­ple like her, for she’s an in­fin­itely bet­ter per son than I. Rather than frit­ter­ing away her time, Rachael of­fered her con­sid­er­able skills to the Women’s Cen­tre for Change, who work to elim­i­nate do­mes­tic vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren. Ini­tially of­fer­ing to do “any­thing”, the WCC now prof­its from her ex­per ience, en­ergy and ded­i­ca­tion.

Rachael stresses that her mo­ti­va­tion was par tially self­ish, not want­ing a three­year gap in her CV. The WCC pro­vides an en­vi­ron­ment to use her Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment train­ing. She has re­alised that her needs in­cluded the use of her skills wher­ever she finds her self. And she tells me , for her, the sim­plest way to turn the need into want is to find a cause that mak es you an­gry – cru­elty to an­i­mals, women, chil­dren – an­gry enough to make you want to change it.

Far from walk­ing away feel­ing a lit­tle un­wor­thy, Rachael in­spired me with her pas­sion; ca­jol­ing me into help­ing with the WCC’S new Value Shop in Is­land Plaza and mod­el­ling some of their clothes. Per­haps ap­proach­ing this sea­son of good­will, there is hope for my self­ish soul af­ter all. And I did promise not to sing my an­nual ver­sion of “Hark the Her­ald An­gels Sing, the hus­band­per­son’s pants went ping”. EL

“Christ­mas should be a time to re­mem­ber those who do not en­joy the ben­e­fits of peace and pros­per­ity”

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