from New Zealand
Christmas in New Zealand arrives right on time for a summer celebration. While I see pictures of Christmas celebrations in the snow from around the world, that seems completely foreign to me.
We have the usual pine Christmas Tree in our homes, but the real tree of Christmas (and probably the most well-known symbol of New Zealand Christmas) is that which produces the flower above. The Pohutukawa tree. If there are plenty of the red flowers out in time for Christmas, we know that summer will be a good one. Most of these trees are found in the North Island, where I spent my childhood, so I have lots of good memories of them, although they’re not that common down here in the south.
I grew up having a hot Christmas dinner of roast turkey and ham, but really it always seems a little crazy considering the warm weather outside. Now days, and today’s plans with my family, will be around the barbeque outside followed by pavlova and fresh berries for dessert.
So that’s my Christmas plans, but I have to admit that I’m not big on the whole Christmas theme. The reason I think I struggle with it is this expectation that everyone will be on their best behaviour, and we are cheerfully ‘nice’ to people who during the rest of the year, we perhaps don’t want a bar of. If only we could use Christmas to find peace in our world and in our families.
I wish for a Christmas that spells the end of war.
I wish for a Christmas that spells the end of hate, and a return to loving our neighbours.
I wish for a Christmas that contains no crime.
I wish for a Christmas where we all stay safe from harm.
I wish for a Christmas of love, especially for those grieving as a result of crime and war.
I wish for a Christmas of peace.
There are no doubt millions of people in this world who wish for the same, regardless of any religious beliefs they may or may not have. Wouldn’t it be great if we could take those individual wishes and turn them into both an individual, and global reality?
Santa Claus, presents and singing Christmas Carols are simply not what matters, in my mind. What matters is working out what each of us, as individuals, can do today to turn this planet towards peace.
Two years ago my family celebrated Christmas with a new child, my niece L. She was born about six weeks before Christmas. It was to be our last Christmas with everyone there, as my father died suddenly four months later. It was a stressful time for us as the earthquakes had started to hit Christchurch and while we were all together, it was a difficult time.
A baby in our midst lightened the mood and promised of good to come. She bought hope. We had no idea of what trauma we would go through in the months to come, how much we would lose, and how much pain there would be. But somehow L’s presence in our family gathering offered us hope and joy. And no doubt today, she will continue to provide that to me.
And that’s on my mind as I’ve picked out this music (complete with snowy scenes for those who need that to connect with Christmas). The lyrics veer towards a Christian understanding of Christmas but I don’t think that needs to exclude anyone. We can use Christmas to celebrate new life, regardless of our religious beliefs. That’s what I’ll be doing anyway.
I wish you all peace, love and hope as you celebrate your Christmas. Enjoy the young. Take joy in their lives. And most of all, find a way to be at peace with yourself, and with our fellow beings.
“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously? ”
― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
- What Matters To Me This Christmas Eve (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)