They were the first words I heard when I woke and hit the snooze button this morning...
'And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.'
Of course, more than 40 years after they were first penned, those haunting words from John Lennon always reverberate and resonate around the world as this Christmas season falls upon us.
Almost as one, we look back amazed that those last twelve months went by so quickly, reflecting on the good, the not-so great, the downright awful, working out what we have accomplished -- or not -- and wonder just what the coming New Year might hold.
For the world itself, of course, it has been a tough, bruising and too-often-bloody year, filled with endless upset, an uncertain political landscape that was unimaginable just a year ago, shocking slaughter like we are now seeing in Aleppo, and deeply disturbing revelations like those this morning of an alleged terror plot -- only foiled at the last minute in Melbourne.
This year, more than most, the world goes into the end-of-year festive season needing a break -- to retreat from the negativity (when DID everyone get so narky?) and take time to reassess, to refresh, to reset.
Me? I feel like I want to deeply immerse myself in the best that Christmas has to offer.
Because, even though my days of waking in the dark on Christmas morning, willing the sun to come up so I could beg Mum and Dad to allow me to open those tinsel-topped presents I was sure Santa had left under the tree, are gone, the magic of Christmas is still well and truly there for me.
And I'm sure a lot of it has to do with tradition.
The tradition of heading to the local servo for our Scout's Christmas tree and getting it home so you can inhale that first unmistakable woody whiff of Christmas pine.
The tradition of hanging our ever growing cache of twinkly lights around the house (in my books, there is no such thing as too many twinkly lights).
The tradition of reminiscing over our kids' handmade decorations from years gone by, and reading once again their beautiful notes: "Dear Mum an Dad, Hop you havee a happy Chrysmuss. I love you more than donutts. Jake. xxoooxxxx".
Our boy Jake was five when he wrote that in his kindergarten class. I know, above DONUTTS! There is no higher honour. And I still tear up every year when I see it.
It's something that Chrissie is built on, like the smell of the ham baking; the annual debate over the recipe for the best gravy; the snap of the lucky turkey breastbone as you make a wish; the crack of the bon-bons opening; the reading out of the truly awful jokes therein followed by the merry groans.
And gathering around the TV on Christmas Eve for Carols By Candlelight. I still can't quite believe my luck, but this year will be my ninth one hosting this iconic Aussie institution at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne, and words simply cannot do that incredible experience justice. Every year, I will everyone watching from beyond the stage to see it all through my eyes as the sun goes down, the candles are held high, and the wonder on the often-sleepy faces of the little ones in the audience takes hold when they see Santa for the first time.
And then there's...
The Best Christmas Experience:
Packing the kids up to find the best streets in the area for Christmas light displays, and watching their faces agog as they witness the magic.
The Best Christmas Experience Involving Pain:
Being dumped by a wave at Bondi, then running across the blistering hot sand to get to your towel. And, of course, bragging about both to anyone who will listen afterwards.
The Best Christmas Movie Ever:
No question. Miracle on 34th Street.
I was transfixed when I first saw it as a little girl, and love it now more than ever. Such a special message. Bring tissues.
The Best Christmas Food:
Cherries. Mangoes. Cornettos. Paddle-Pops. In that order.
The Best Way To Feel Good At Christmas:
Giving to the K-Mart Wishing Tree. There's something especially wonderful about giving back at this time of year. And it teaches your kids the true meaning of what all of this is really, truly about.
The Best Christmas Song:
Again, no question. It has to be Australia's own Tim Minchin's masterpiece, 'Drinking White Wine In The Sun', which captures better than any song I've come across, the essence of the Australian Christmas experience.
"I'll be seeing my dad,
My brother and sisters,
My gran and my mum.
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun.
And you, my baby girl
My jet-lagged infant daughter
You'll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won't understand
But you will learn some day
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who'll make you feel safe in his world.."
And finally, The Best Christmas Story:
It is, of course, the Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, written more than a century ago, and if you read nothing else this Christmas, google it and read that. I won't spoil it by telling you the story, or the climactic moment -- I couldn't possibly do it justice -- but it turns on people treating each other with generosity and kindness. And if there is anything the world needs right now, it is precisely that.
Merry Christmas everyone, and here's to true and lasting peace on earth. And at the very least, a little less nark.Suggest a correction