“It’s only three more sleeps till Christmas!” was the shrill that was my alarm this morning, like many other households around the world a daily countdown is how my house has woken for weeks, as my two children open another advent calendar door. While most of the gifts are wrapped with love around the tree and the ham and turkey are in the fridge awaiting grandma’s stuffing or glaze, there is always that last minute Christmas rush to pull it all together and tick off those last minute things: the gift for the one family member who is always hard to buy for, making sure there are enough plates and cutlery for all the extended family who descend on Christmas day.
Amongst the rush: the decorating, planning, shopping, cooking, wrapping I hope you all have time for the spirit of Christmas - the love, joy, peace. At the community centre over the past few weeks we have had many moments that have shown us that the true meaning of Christmas is strong in our town, and I’m not embarrassed to say they have brought a tear to my eye: a delivery of a HUGE box full of toys from a toy store that was generously and anonymously purchased by a local Dungog resident, an amazingly generous cheque that was donated by a local business person when they heard our Christmas programs were under pressure to meet demand, the reverse advent calendars that have been returned by families who have lovingly filled with food and a few treats to help another family have a wonderful Christmas, the long list of volunteers and helpers who register to help on Christmas day for the community lunch.
There are also many other smaller, but just as powerful, gestures throughout our community: the toys and food placed at the giving tree and IGA tree, the Christmas cards or box of chocolates given to teachers, nurses and others in our community who have supported, cared and nurtured us and our community through the year, all the grandchildren who have lovingly decorated grandma’s Christmas tree, the beautiful Christmas lights displays that continue to bring so much joy to us all as we drive around town. For all these moments there are many more unseen, but always felt. So as we all join family and friends, pop bon bons and don a silly hat, and count down the final few days make sure you find a little time to think of others, reach out to others and share the love joy and peace of the season.