Another Christmas

Westfield Reindeer

Another Christmas
A time of mirth and laughter:
My heart misses you

Listening to carols
Thinking of old friends:
Must be Christmas
Again

Sphere and Reindeer

I took these photos on Thursday night in Bondi Junction. Every year the two Westfield centres are beautifully decorated for Christmas and this reindeer display is my favourite; it hangs down across all six levels and is exquisite when the light catches it just right.

It always amazes me how quickly the season seems to come around each year… it hardly feels like more than a few months since last Christmas. Time goes by so quickly these days.

I enjoy the time of year but it always feels a little bittersweet to me as well as I often think about family and friends overseas and others who are no longer in our lives. I guess that’s what was on my mind when I wrote the haiku, the mixed feelings the season often brings.

Photos and haiku Β© CJ Levinson 2011

We Wish You an Aussie Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating today. Hope you’re having a wonderful day wherever you are in the world. It was hot in Sydney today and we just spent a quiet day at home. We opened our presents in the afternoon – I got the new Stephen King which I’m looking forward to reading – and had a salad for dinner which was lovely. I must admit I’m feeling a little bit sick now though. I think I ate too much, although how you can feel bloated on a salad I have no idea. I haven’t even been able to fit in any cake yet!

Christmas is a bit of a funny time for me. I’m not religious anymore but I still enjoy the feeling of the season, the spirit of goodwill and cheer in the air. For some reason I haven’t really felt it that much this year though. We put up our tree a week late this year and that’s usually when I get into the Christmas spirit, so that might be part of it, but there’s also been a distinct lack of atmosphere this year. There have been fewer lights and decorations around and the shopping centres have been all but deserted, even on Christmas eve. I guess it shows how much people are struggling this year… 2010’s been hard on a lot of people and I think everyone’s feeling the squeeze. Hopefully 2011 will be a better year.

I guess to me Christmas is mostly about spending time with family these days and I felt lucky to be able to spend it with my parents today. It was a simple, quiet day and I think I’m starting to value those kind of days more and more as I get older. I know that a lot of people feel lonely and isolated at Christmas, having lost someone or not being able to be with their children, and I found myself thinking about them a lot today, and our troops overseas. I’d still really like to volunteer somewhere over Christmas at some stage. I didn’t feel well enough to do it this year but maybe next year I’ll be able to.

In any case I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas wherever you are in the world. To celebrate I thought I’d post another of my Aussie Christmas songs. I did an Aussie take on Jingle Bells last year and The Aussie 12 Days of Christmas in 2008, so I guess it’s become something of a Christmas tradition on my blog now!

This year I thought I’d do We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Originally I wanted to do Frosty the Snowman but I couldn’t work out a way to make it sound very Australian – I mean, it’s not like we get much snow! We Wish You a Merry Christmas was a little easier and it’s also one of my favourite songs at this time of year. I’ll try to do Frosty next year if I can.

I hope you enjoy it. And Merry Christmas. πŸ˜‰

We Wish You an Aussie Christmas

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Good luck and good fate to you and your mates
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Send the gifts through the post
Get the food for the roast
Sleep in on Christmas morning
And get ready to play host!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

May your kids make you smile
May your Christmas have style
May they get lots of pressies
To keep them busy for a while!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Grab a sausage or two
Don’t forget the fondue
And we’ll gather in the backyard
To start the barbeque!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Have fun with the rellies
Laugh and sing with full bellies
Take a few family photos
Then watch the cricket on the telly!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Have a beer by the pool
While you try to stay cool
And we’ll sing songs and carols
To celebrate the yule!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Try a slice of the cake
Just like mum used to make
A little dry and spongy
But at least it’s not fake!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

May your Christmas be bright
Filled with festive delight
And don’t forget to say g’day to Santa
If you see him tonight!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

Good luck and good fate to you and your mates
We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

We wish you an Aussie Christmas and a ripper New Year!

2000 Miles

Do you have a favourite seasonal song? If I had a favourite one it would be The Pretenders’ 2000 Miles; it’s such a beautiful, sad song… whenever I hear it it takes me somewhere far away. 2000 Miles and Joni Mitchell’s River are two songs I can listen to at any time of the year and still get shivers.

I found this video on YouTube and it’s a wonderful live performance… Chrissie Hynde has never sounded better. I could listen to her voice for hours.

I still can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. The years just go by more quickly. I don’t think I’ve felt the spirit as much this year, though. Maybe I’ve just been too busy, and I still haven’t finished all my shopping yet! But listening to a song like this brings it all back.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone, and my best wishes for a peaceful New Year.

Naughty or nice?

Little Naughty

Were You Naughty or Nice This Year?

As my last post was about getting into the festive spirit, I thought it might be fun to look at a few Christmas quizzes. There are a couple of interesting ones at Blogthings, particularly one on How Much Do You Know About Christmas? I didn’t agree with a couple of answers, though, which is why I didn’t post it (it’s not 9 reindeer, is it? Rudolph doesn’t count).

The one I liked more was this one on if you’ve been naughty or nice. Apparently I’ve been a little naughty this year. Hm, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess it’s not far off. I’ve got an image to maintain, you know. πŸ˜‰

I remember I used to make a big deal about it when I was younger. What about you? Did you ever try to bribe Santa? It never worked for me. πŸ™‚

Bah, Humbug!

There’s a certain time when it starts to feel like Christmas for me. Sometimes I can be walking around K-Mart and looking at decorations but it just feels silly; it’s like October and Christmas seems an age away. Plus where would I store them for three months? But around late November I start to get into it more. I can usually tell when; I’ll be out shopping and at some stage the Christmas music starts and I don’t feel like destroying the speakers!

I enjoy the Christmas season but I’m one of those people who gets quite stressed in the lead up. I like getting my shopping done early (1st week of December) but inevitably someone buys something I’ve already bought them, so back it goes. I hate the queues; it’s not the waiting I hate, but the people who don’t wait. They jump the queue like they think they’re better than the rest of us commoners. And back out on the streets, the crush is five people deep and it’s a game of dodgeball just to avoid the elbows and backpacks. Ah, the joys of city life…

What I like about Christmas is more the feeling than the day itself. I wouldn’t say everyone is happy and nice, but there’s definitely a different feeling when you’re out. Houses have their trees up and suncatchers in the windows, the shopping centres have their decorations and lights, children are excited, the music’s playing in the background… it’s just a nice feeling that doesn’t happen any other time of the year.

Recently I’ve had a bit of a think about what Christmas means to me. I’ve outgrown the child’s excitement that comes with the day, and I’m more spiritual than religious. So now it’s more about spending time with my family, and the message that comes with the season; peace, joy, hope, a worthy message no matter what you believe. The problem that often seems to come with it, though, is that it can be an anticlimax. Have you ever seen Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation? That’s one of my favourite holiday movies and I love that everything he tries to do for his family just goes wrong! The tree’s too big, the lighting won’t work, his bonus is cancelled, the tree burns down… it’s not so far off real life. It doesn’t take much for family feuds to resume or a meal to be a disaster and all the fuss just doesn’t seem worth it. What lingers for me is the Bam earthquake on Boxing Day 2003, and the tsunami the following year… when 200,000 people die so suddenly, everything else drops away.

But at the same time perhaps that makes the message more important. The idea that we can live in peace, that we can celebrate something that brings so many people joy, that family does matter to us, is a wonderful message. Much as I don’t like the shopping and commercialism, I love the joy it brings to children; I love seeing their eyes light up when they see Santa or open a present on Christmas morning, or when the carols are on TV and families sit together and sing along. That’s what I like about the season.

This year I’ve decided I’m going to do things a bit differently. I’m going to cut back on a lot of the things that stress me out and enjoy the festive feeling instead. I’m staying away from the crowds and cutting back on the amount I spend (never a lot anyway) and the food, and I’m going to listen to more of the music. I just bought Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong and I’m looking forward to rewatching some of The Simpsons Christmas episodes. Something I do each year is to add up the amount I’ve spent and make a similar donation to charity. This year I’m going to do that through Global Giving. It’s a great site and connects users to over 450 independent charity projects around the world; the donations are spread out at a grassroots level, so they can really make a difference to an entire community (orphanages, schools, health programs). I ‘ve written about it before and I think it’s well worth supporting.

Other than that it’s going to be much the same as always. A salad on Christmas day, some time with family and friends, a mince pie here and there… I’m sure there’ll still be some of the stresses I hate so much, but hopefully it’ll be more balanced! What do you think? Do you get carried away or is it all a bit of a “bah, humbug!” moment? I’ve always said Ebenezer was misunderstood! πŸ˜‰