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Christmas is defined by two things. Those who are present, and those who no longer are. It took me leaving the country, and myself, to realise this. Love is what we have, love is all we have. Cherish it.
I wonder what it is about the heat and the booze, the smell of sausages and fresh cut grass that is so elating and so profoundly sad?
I entered my twenties closing my third eye. I watched the drunk and high members of my community writhe around on grass and sand, feeding casket wine and stolen cheeses from chain supermarkets to one-another like Roman gods; gluttonous and entitled, laying in their vomit, hunting for a fellow lost tribesman to kiss with polluted mouths; this was the ceremonial greeting at the gates that rang in the most wonderful time of the year.
At quarter life, I lost my footing. Escaping summer nights and boys who smell of cigarettes and misogyny, I went in search of storybook snow. With a notion that perhaps my fantasies of poised and curated Christmases would inspire, I adventured toward some fetishised, Dickensian reality, only to find London rats and overpopulated share-houses with ancient garbage and depressed wait staff. Wherever I landed in the Northern Hemisphere, all us Christmas orphans gathered to consume, to lament and have meaningless sex. Anything to stave off our seasonal loneliness.
Upon my arrival to Melbourne airport, I heard Michael Bublé singing Christmas carols on repeat whilst waiting for the contents of my suitcase: dirty clothes and broken hearts. I observed women running to the bathroom to cover their desperately dehydrated faces with coats of makeup in preparation for their loved ones. Kids doped up on jet lag and sugar were eagerly awaiting their elders on the other side of the gate whilst staring into iPads. I saw a young man with a football tattoo playing with an engagement ring on the flight over, with me filling in the gaps of their real-life docile romcom. I took the bus to my mother’s house.
There are two gaping holes that seem to echo with great vibration in the holiday season: those who have gone, and those who are yet to be.
At the Christmas party of my inherited goyish kin, I searched for my reflection in a bowl of punch. In amongst the maraschino cherries, tinned pineapple, wafts of white wine and raspberry cordial, I woke up. I woke up to find that life is good. That night I went walking.
I am a Jew observing the twinkling Christmas lights melting off suburban roof tiles. I walk hand in hand with the love I am yet to meet, and the child I am yet to have. The ghost of my recently departed grandmother follows me. She chews loudly on slices of apple and festively spills invisible wine all over my short white dress whilst harassing me about my husband void. The booming mythological voice of my long lost father calls to me in the carolling streets behind. He tells me I need to keep chasing. I can hear the spirit of my dear friend Adrian, who is playing guitar and singing somewhere in the tin sheds behind these homes. His is perhaps the only soothing whisper – reminding me it is a blessing to wake up each morning able to breathe. There are two gaping holes that seem to echo with great vibration in the holiday season: those who have gone, and those who are yet to be.
We lament in times of celebration. They are clear markers of the things we have not achieved, they are the posts in our lives where we are able to measure loss. They are the moments where we cannot escape the love and adoration we all have, for it is gathered and distilled and displayed in-amongst shitty deserts and faux fancy salads. We are unable to deny the loneliness we often feel, because it is magnified when around love. When we give love, we feel the love that was not given to us. At the end of this all – this life – the deeper we love, the harder we hurt.
So, happy holidays to all around.
I wish to give to you the space to not fear pain, for with that comes love in its greatest and truest form, and we are nothing without it.