It is the day after Christmas here in Australia and still Christmas Day elsewhere in the world. I love that I have friends in England, Ireland and America who are now enjoying the day I have already lived … I feel like I am living the future!
I love Christmas Day. For me it is a time to be with family and friends, and to stop and appreciate all that I am blessed with, in much more than merely a material sense, for although I live a comfortable life, even more so I am blessed with an abundance of love.
For me, Christmas is all about love.
We all have pictures of Christmas and what we think it should look like for us. Many of these come from our childhood, and how we were raised to enjoy the day, and these become layered over with religious beliefs, family ideals, cultural traditions and advertising, with images from rom-com movies like “Love, Actually” and Christmas carols forming the backdrop and soundtrack to it all.
But what is the meaning of Christmas?
As doctors, we get to see the best and worst of Christmas. I remember as a young child, raised in a country town by two doctor parents, being taken to the local hospital (where my father worked) and the nursing home (that my mother ran) on Christmas morning to say hello and Merry Christmas to the patients who were not well enough to go home or who had no home to go to, to brighten up their day and bring them some Christmas cheer. I used to dread and resent this part of the day, but came to really appreciate it and enjoy it, and to understand that if I am blessed with an abundance, it is not for me to keep to myself, but to share with others.
I came to confuse this with charity, or needing to give people money or stuff, and sympathy, or feeling sorry for them, but I have come to understand that sharing this abundance is a matter of the openness of my heart, of treating all people with the same love and care that I feel for my near and dear loved ones.
Illness and disease do not stop for Christmas, and we have all done our share of working on Christmas Day. This can be challenging, if we are dealing with road trauma, alcohol-fuelled violence, self-harm or people who are so sick that they cannot go home, or who have no home to go to. It can also feel great to be at work and feel our true purpose and the true purpose of Christmas, which is to be love and to share that love with all, equally so.
Having said that, it is also great to take time off, have the day at home to rest and enjoy spending time with family and friends, and to appreciate our colleagues who are working the day on behalf of us this year, knowing our turn will come around again.
Christmas Day is not a great day for everyone. For some it highlights the loneliness, the misery, the discontent, the anguish that they live in every other day, and if we have pictures and expectations that it should be a joyful day filled with family, friends, love and laughter, if and when it is not, we can feel a heightened sense of despair.
We are all one family. And on this day, it is well to remember this, to hold each other dearly in our hearts, to share our abundance of love with others and to connect with those in our circle and beyond whom we know could use a helping hand.
And when Christmas Day is done, we could bring the same love, care, and cheer to every other day of the year, for in truth, we are living the same day, over and over again, until we all return to living the love, and the Oneness, that we are and come from.