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Monday, January 21, 2019 ARCHIVES  |  SEARCH  |  POST ADS  |  ADVERTISE  |  SUBSCRIBE   |  LOGIN   |  CONTACT US

Worthwhile traditions

Winfred Peppinck

So this is Christmas and what have you done

Another year over, a new one just begun” 

So goes the lovely Happy Xmas (War Is Over), a song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. 

A classic in the way that, for my generation, Bing Crosby’s White Christmas was.

It’s incongruous because we celebrate Christmas and New Year at the hottest time of the year in Australia - yet all the cards depict Santa and reindeers in metres of snow!

Everywhere that tradition is maintained, even in malls in Bahrain.

It’s what Trumpian advocates would call faux, or fake, snow.

I nevertheless have some empathy with GDN letter writer Ebeneezer, ‘Wasteful traditions’, (GDN, December 27).

It contained lots of “why bother”, with valid reasons advanced.

Surveys showed that Australia would collectively spend $25 billion on the festive season in 2018. Imagine the debt!

I loved the ritual of a real Christmas conifer, often purchased from Boy Scouts, the joy of decorating it with baubles, tinsel and little lights.

The excitement of my children, coming in on Christmas morning and seeing “Santa’s” footprints in the “snow”.

The half drunk glass of lemonade, the nibbled carrot indicating the reindeer had been there too. It was worth the effort and subterfuge.

Incredulous smiles and glee at unwrapping – or tearing – open presents.

Adults scooping up the wrapping, but it was worth the time spent in packaging. 

It was therefore churlish for President Trump to disillusion a little seven-year-old by telling them the existence of Santa was “marginal”. Very poor.

Santa “lives” in young children, they see him.

It is wonderful that, every year, Canadian and American air-traffic controllers put a little blip on their navigation screens - letting children know: “Santa is on his way.”

The festive season is one of joy.

Often churches find they are fully staffed by Christian believers, even though many are regarded as “C&E” (Christmas and Easter) attendees only. 

I remember many Christmas celebrations and Christmas lunches in Bahrain with wonderful friends, the McKinlays and Al Asfors, and even getting to enjoy brussels sprouts!

Practical small gifts like socks, books and small personal items. Often tickets to events, the theatre, the movies or stage shows, bottles of wine or perfume.

Understandably too things like books, pens and toys, which can be returned on Boxing Day!

More adults and grandparents these days give children a bank note, so they can purchase the things they really want.

I grew tired of bringing my grandchildren Lego, when they said politely: “Opa, I already have this one!” 

It’s handy to retain the receipt.

And then the commensurate New Year’s event, now with the mandatory fireworks displays.

I saw the ball drop in New York to signal the start of a New Year, after which I ushered in subsequent New Years in numerous countries.

Sydney, with its backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, the dark waters of its stunning harbour full of ferries and pleasure boats, can be seen from the vantage point of a friend’s apartment, high above Kings Cross.

Sydney’s location means it is among the first with fireworks. 

Or in Canberra, at dinner on New Year’s Eve with fireworks on the lake – and that first kiss with one you really love.