’TIS THE SEA­SON TO LOOK BE­YOND OUR OWN FAM­ILY

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS -

THERE is much to cel­e­brate as we look to­wards the hol­i­day break and the fes­tive sea­son, as fam­i­lies unite to en­joy the spe­cial mo­ments that this time of year brings. Gath­er­ing with our loved ones, some we may not have seen since the last fes­tiv­i­ties, as we ac­knowl­edge an­other year has dis­ap­peared, and the chil­dren have grown, while par­ents and grand­par­ents have aged.

So much plan­ning goes into where we will get to­gether and cel­e­brate, how much sleep we hope to catch up on and how much ex­tra food we need to feed the ex­tended fam­ily and friends who call in over the hol­i­days. Just the mere thought of pre­par­ing for Christ­mas Day it­self sends many fam­i­lies into ma­jor plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion mode to ex­e­cute the per­fect Christ­mas Day.

The ex­cite­ment of the younger chil­dren as they pray and hope for cer­tain gifts, and the dec­o­ra­tions that fill the house, takes us back to our child­hood when life seemed so sim­ple. Yet, as we look to the hol­i­days with great an­tic­i­pa­tion, I can­not help but look be­yond the cel­e­bra­tions and won­der about those who cel­e­brate Christ­mas alone. The young and the old who some­how have dis­con­nected with fam­ily. For many it will be the first year of cel­e­brat­ing with­out a loved one, still griev­ing the loss of their soul­mate. For oth­ers it is per­haps a time of year when they prefer to be alone and move on to the new year.

It is also im­por­tant to recog­nise that not ev­ery­one cel­e­brates Christ­mas – a Chris­tian hol­i­day and a West­ern, cap­i­tal­ist phe­nom­e­non. It is of­ten im­posed on in­di­vid­u­als who are not Chris­tians, nor do they wish to buy into a money-mak­ing scheme.

We should re­spect oth­ers for their re­li­gious or cul­tural be­liefs and al­low them to have a space to prac­tise their re­li­gion. While we are in­dulging in the hol­i­day sea­son, we of­ten for­get about the in­jus­tices that many peo­ple face in our so­ci­ety, and we need to be con­scious about those who may not be able to share the same happy, joy­ful nar­ra­tive.

Christ­mas is a time when dis­tinct com­par­isons can be made be­tween the “haves” and “have-nots”. Poverty is a mas­sive, world­wide prob­lem in all coun­tries and dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son, poor in­di­vid­u­als are of­ten for­got­ten about and ne­glected. The cap­i­tal­ist gim­mick of buy­ing ex­pen­sive gifts over­shad­ows the fact that so much money could go to­wards al­le­vi­at­ing poverty.

For ’tis the sea­son to give and re­joice – yet given the cau­tious head­winds fore­cast by the global tur­moil and un­cer­tainty, it is the time to think twice about our giv­ing and where we should di­rect such gen­eros­ity. How much do our chil­dren re­ally need and could we share this gen­eros­ity and give out­side our fam­ily to help an­other fam­ily. It is not the type or size of gift that mat­ters, it is how we can make a dif­fer­ence to some­one else who finds this time of year a dif­fi­cult pe­riod to en­joy with the same sense of be­long­ing.

Maybe it is time for each of us to con­sider if we are over­spend­ing, overindulging for a brief pe­riod of en­joy­ment, with the new year to re­mind us of the need to re­duce all ex­cesses and be more mod­est in what we do.

Per­haps we could all ap­ply this mod­est way of think­ing be­fore we race out and buy end­less sup­plies of goods and gifts to sat­isfy the fam­ily.

Af­ter all, isn’t the most im­por­tant thing that we ac­knowl­edge is our joy and hap­pi­ness of just catch­ing up with friends and fam­ily and liv­ing in the mo­ment, to be grate­ful for what we have and not un­grate­ful for what we do not have.

Why wait for the new year be­fore adopt­ing a more mod­est ap­proach? Be­ing fru­gal is not be­ing mean or go­ing with­out. It is be­ing more con­sid­ered in what we eat and what we give.

This Christ­mas, let’s be mind­ful of the im­por­tance of grat­i­tude. A time when a gift should come from the heart. As we re­call Christ’s mes­sage “to love thy neigh­bour’’, take time to think about giv­ing a help­ing hand to in­di­vid­u­als who are less for­tu­nate. In do­ing so, we should not dis­crim­i­nate to whom we ex­tend a help­ing hand.

Even if it is just one per­son you pass by, a sim­ple ac­tion from the heart can make a dif­fer­ence. Af­ter all, we are the “leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch” un­der the um­brella of the one­ness of hu­man­ity.

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