Updated: Mar 14, 2019
Christmas time. It’s changed so much for me over the last few years.
Where once it seemed as if the whole world had been sprinkled with shiny tinsel and baubles, it’s become a much simpler time.
Living in a country that is predominantly Hindu, Christmas is not majorly celebrated in Bali, but I still get excited when I find a store filled with decorations and trees. Yet the fuss and panic isn’t there any more, and maybe my enthusiasm has tarnished just a little. That could be a good thing.
I’m sure to everyone, Christmas has many meanings, and to each of us it holds a different place in our hearts.
For some it may mean a religious festival, a time to reflect and remember, church ceremonies to celebrate life. For some it's a gathering of family, and literal feasts of food. It's feeling festive and time away from work, beach holidays or snow covered homes, depending on where you are in the world.
For some it's a struggle. Christmas may have no meaning at all, yet we’re surrounded by the hype. The movies telling us how special the day is, the advertisements to entice us to follow tradition, the stores playing endless carols. It can be a terrible reminder of everything we may not have or what we have lost.
It’s taken me a lifetime to find Christmas has a different meaning to me, to remember it should be whatever I want it to be.
In our second year in Bali, our life away from family brings more contemplation at this time. Despite our kids being all grown up, it was always a special time for us. Everyone knows Rob’s love of cooking and the feast that would be prepared, and the left-overs we ate for days!
This year has seen a much simpler Christmas preparation. Our tree is a one metre timber stand, it has tinsel and some treasured ornaments, but it’s got nothing on the two metre green tree that would take me days to decorate. There are no catch-ups, no running to stores in a mad panic. No working in retail in what can be a horrid time of the year, that part we don’t miss!
We’re celebrating, don’t get me wrong. It’s just different.
Sixty people will sample Rob’s wonderful menu on December 25th, he still puts his heart into the food he serves, just most of the time somebody else is cooking it. Whilst we won’t have family with us this year, we have an orphans table of friends that we’re looking forward to spending the day with. The restaurant is decorated, and even our staff are excited. Despite following their Hindu traditions, they understand our Christmas. They wear their Santa hats with pride, and sing along to the carols. They laugh with us as we take photos with our dogs - our family pic this year.
I’m going to look at Christmas as a time of gratitude, another year of good health, conscious of those who haven’t had the same fortune. Give thanks for the life we have, the life we lead. The many people we have had the pleasure of meeting, and sharing good times with.
Perhaps that’s one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. Our time, our hearts.
Understanding that each one of us is different, that some may need more love than others. That there are no rules in life. Remembering to reach out to those who are alone, those who are unwell. Believing that Christmas is in our hearts, not just inside a gift wrapped in expensive paper sitting beneath a tree.
And so I say, look deep into your hearts, and ask yourself what does Christmas mean to you? Then make your Christmas everything you want it to be. Whether you celebrate with many, or celebrate in your pyjamas and have your own private party. It’s all okay.
May this Christmas bring you all laughter, love and hope.
Love Jo x