Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas – the spirit of giving, spending time with family and friends. I just hate the commercialism attached to it. As a teen I would wrap presents in newspaper. As a parent, I feel for those who don’t celebrate Santa as it’s seemingly inescapable.
Even then, my celebration of Christmas has evolved in the last few years. As a family we’ve started doing secret Santa. I love it. It means less presents for me but that’s ok. Presents are just an excuse to get together. Adulthood is busy and I don’t see my friends as often as I’d like but we ensure we get together every Christmas to give presents to each other’s kids. Anyway, what I like about secret Santa is that everyone gets a gift but the focus is on enjoying the company and not unwrapping the bits and bobs.
I’ve also taken to writing Christmas cards recently. I never used to. I hate the things. Generally people write ‘To’ and ‘From’ with little extra – what’s the point? If that’s all you’re doing you might as well just send a text (and in saying that I’ve possibly offended some people unintentionally). My favourite cards came from a colleague when I first started teaching. Lisa had the same amount of experience as me but she had a sensibility about her that I lacked. Each Christmas in those first few years she would write a detailed observation about my year. I’m trying to recreate that. I’m notoriously bad at complementing people but we’ve had a number of new staff come through our office in the last few years, people that don’t realise just how good they are. So what I do now is use Christmas as an opportunity to let them know just how much they are appreciated.
I think that’s what the holidays boil down to, showing people you appreciate them. I don’t care what religion you follow, all faiths preach tolerance and love.
I teach students with enormous potential, brilliant minds and compassionate hearts but I don’t tell them this as often as I could. I have a family that I love deeply but I don’t tell them as often as I should. I have friends that have shaped who I am more than anything else on this earth but I can’t tell them because we’re all blokes and expressing our feelings to each other is socially awkward.
But it’s Christmas so who cares?
To my students, colleagues, family and friends – you make me. We define ourselves through our interactions with others; you are the people I interact with the most.
Wishing you all the merriest of Christmases and happiest of holidays. May the next few days shine brighter than most.