Sunday, 25 December 2016

It's Christmas Day

Well here we are again at Christmas time on a hot day in Sydney. The sun is out and the air is quiet as everything living takes shelter; all I can hear is the occasional cry from a group of revellers down in the park or in one of the highrises around here. Even the birds are mainly still and mute; an occasional trill reminds me of the presence somewhere out there of something living.

But I feel alive. I know I am alive because of this special feeling in my heart, a mixture of happiness and loneliness. It must have been this kind of feeling that motivated my father to put Christmas carols on the record player in the morning for Christmas Day, so that we kids could hear them as we made our way upstairs to where the Christmas tree had earlier been erected. A feeling like this must have motivated my mother even in her final years to always make sure we had some sort of bird cooked in the oven for Christmas Day. Her preparations on days earlier still a memory for me when I came over to celebrate the day with her in her small apartment in Queensland.

A strange mixture of happiness and loneliness, one inspired by closeness to all the things we love in the world, and by a separation from those same things that we know is equally eternal.

Later today I will be going off to celebrate the day with a friend at his brother's house. I will catch the train and then walk; it's not a long way. Long enough but not too long.

And I will walk through the quiet streets from which most people have been emptied by the nature of the day, as people spend time with those who are close to them. And I will think again with regret of the people left behind in the other country, people whose lives are now separate from mine. I made my choices and they made theirs and now here we are living ten thousand kilometres apart, separated by such distances as used to drive people insane. But at least we are still linked by that feeling, that strange mixture of happiness and loneliness that comes over us on Christmas Day and on other days like it in the calendar. Days of general slumber and relaxation, days of tender devotion and rarer joy.

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