As 2016 begins to draw to a close, I look back and let out a huge sigh of relief, grateful to be moving forward and excited about all the things to come in the year ahead. Since 2009, December has continually been a heavy time of reflection for me because what once was a month full of tradition, multiple social gatherings, excessive shopping and eating has ever so slowly evolved into a month of stillness, serenity, and with the exception of one or two family dinners, solitude.
And I’ve grown to love it.
Zero part of me misses the chaotic scrambling around; the thoughtless cash spending; the heavy decorations; the rich foods; the parties; the traffic jams; the noises; the rush. Just thinking of those things instantly spikes anxiety within me. It’s too much. It was always too much. But I didn’t know because that’s all I was ever exposed to. Being busy was normal.
I always think of Dad during these times. Throughout the years of Mom hosting multiple parties and family gatherings, Dad could always be found upstairs, quietly tucked away behind a closed door in their master bedroom, reading the newspaper or a book in his own space of peace. Sometimes it upset others because he was nowhere to be found. Sometimes one of his brothers would eventually find him and interrupt him for a chat. Sometimes I’d be sent by Mom to call Dad out of their room and make him come downstairs to socialise. But what I didn’t realise at the time was just how much his tradition and his actions influenced me.
Dad would eventually come downstairs and join the party, but in his own time, when he was ready. No one could force him or rush him or pressure him. He did what he wanted, how he wanted, and when he wanted. Every action carefully measured and outcome thoughtfully calculated. And then he would make his move. You’d hear the slow muddled creaking of our rickety old carpeted staircase, and then you’d catch a glimpse of the shadow of a foot followed by another foot, and then a hand, until eventually the shadows formed the shape of a man; then the shape would finally step out from the shadow and Dad would appear at the bottom of the staircase. And for a split second, while still holding on to the last bit of railing, he would pause and just stand there, blinking his eyes to help them adjust to the blazing strings of Christmas lights dancing around the living room, which was smothered in everything green or red or candy-striped, and every corner stuffed with something shiny or edible.
The moment was always quick and brief, but it stuck with me.
Maybe that’s why I love Australia so much, especially during this time of the year. Australia is to me what upstairs was to Dad — sacred. No one here is forcing me to perform or conform to pressures and norms. It is a country where society judges no one for doing ‘sweet FA’ or ‘having a quiet one’ or simply ‘fatting out.’ Vibes are always chill. People are relaxed. No one gives a f*ck. And it’s unbelievably liberating.
So my dear ones, I pray that this season you’re able to find your own place of peace where you can clear your mind, gratefully reflect on the year behind you, prepare for the moments ahead, and discover all that is sacred to you.