Here it is the afternoon of New Year's Eve in Australia, and I am still behind the times in 2012. Having been ill throughout December and having dragged myself through those days, I finally had the energy yesterday to capture a few photos of the annual letterbox festive celebrations. It certainly lifted this traveller's spirits as she travelled the byways of country roads. I love the magic of decoration. It taps into my childhood memories of Christmas, times when goodwill was widespread, of long lazy summers and extended family get-togethers. I like the fact that people take time out from the rush of the festive season to decorate and to share a splash of unexpected fun with the passing world.
I love the tinsel and song of Christmas, the lighting of the Christmas tree in the heart of Canberra, and renditions of live Christmas music, especially performances of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's 'The Messiah'. I always feel transported to another level, spiritually and emotionally.
For the most part, I was disappointed with the lack of seasonal spirit in the major shopping centres this year. There were a lot of Santa displays and Christmas bargains but little evidence of the goodwill and few mutual exchanges of seasonal wishes. Whenever I wished a stranger merry Christmas, the response was a pause of surprised consideration followed by a smile. The one exception in Canberra being Belconnen Shopping Centre, still luxuriously new with gleaming tiled floors and plush carpets. The serene music made shopping a pleasure, inviting shoppers to tarry over a mug of coffee and take a load off tired feet. In Sydney, I was especially appreciative of the 2012 David Jones store window displays. Crowds lined up again to marvel at this year's delightful displays. Next year, I hope to take my granddaughter to see them. She'll be two (yes, I am a young grandmother). Nothing beats experiencing life through the eyes of a child.
It disturbs me that the Santa myth, with all the commercial pressure of expensive gifting, appears to have overtaken the Christ story of Christmas. When I was a child (I sound so old when I say that), the Christ and Santa stories co-existed with the focus on the religious reason for the season. I don't think the Grinch has hijacked Christmas but commercialism certainly has as has the political correctness of outwardly being sensitive to other faiths. Personally, I think we should celebrate the goodness embedded in all belief systems, not deny them. There should be more reasons to celebrate the seasons not less.
I wish you and yours a happy and safe New Year's Eve and hope that 2013 is one of peace, well-being, and prosperity for you.