COVID-19 DIARY – THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS

December 25

So I had a very nice Christmas.

Not everybody did.

A lot of people spent Christmas with a loved one missing for the first time.

Some couldn’t see the people they care about. Some had to skype, some people don’t have skype.

They don’t have a lot of things and its hard to see if are things are going to get better if you can’t find work, can’t do work and your health is failing.

That was Christmas in 2020 for a lot of people and, not that it’s worth anything but, I couldn’t write anything further until I acknowledged that.

Because I did have a nice Christmas.

Yes I was worried about family in the UK and yes I am still worried. We did skype them.

But I did see the rest of my immediate family, I did see my in-laws, we did have a nice time, with pleasant conversation, good food and presents were exchanged.

It was a great Christmas but something struck me even here in Australia where we have proven to be the ‘lucky country’.

It seemed when discussing Christmas Day there was not much talk about going away, big plans, massive catering, it seemed that everybody was focused on just getting the people they loved in the house as best they could even if it had to be by digital means.

They just wanted to be with each other.

At work I was involved in trying to spread Christmas cheer, and it grew from there. Secret Santa gifts put a smile on people’s faces, photos of Christmas trees with treasured decorations and cherubs putting them up were shared, there were winners of silly sock-off competitions and money was raised for various charities.

Paper Christmas hats were made and face masks decorated to wear at team meetings that sported new versions of traditional carols and T’Was The Night Before Christmas and raised spirits.

And God bless her! One member of the IT staff became the GOAT at doing Christmas when she won the first round of the silly sock-off, retired from the sport with an on point resignation press release, had one of the best Christmas trees, sported some reindeer antlers and I kid you not arranged a Frosty snowman hunt in the office.

If you found a photo of a Frosty snowman you got to exchange it for the most exquisite treat.

It seemed the importance of spreading some cheer and supporting others was alive and well this most recent Christmas and I just hope we take something from that.

I belatedly wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – OH CHRISTMAS TREE, OH CHRISTMAS TREE

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                                Our Christmas Tree. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

November 28

On Saturday the 28th of November we put up our Christmas Tree again for the second year in a row.

I never really got around to getting a Christmas tree when I was a bachelor.

But as soon as Karen and I moved in together she got one for our apartment.

It was 2011 and I was temping and working nights at BIG W. We lived pay to pay.

It was an old fibre optic tree that no longer worked that she picked up at a Salvos store.

Half a metre tall, bent over we had no decorations but Karen placed a Christmas Penguin toy at the foot of it and voila we had a Christmas tree.

A year later a colleague at QUT offered me is Christmas tree lights that he was throwing out because a third of them did not work.

With all of them wrapped en masse around that tiny tree you couldn’t tell.

Christmas Tree 2012

Last year I was made a permanent employee after years of working contracts. 

I decided I was getting our first proper tree.

I had always wanted a fibre optic tree but the ones in the shops seemed lacklustre in their lighting. I remembered ones that shone like the embers of a fire, not these little specks of light.

Resigned to having to temper my expectations my mother suggested we try the Christmas Warehouse just down the road from our place.

There we found a tree.

People advised us fibre optics don’t last.

The guy at the warehouse suggested not to get lights to go with the fibre optics, it would be overkill.

Karen worried I was spending too much by getting our first decorations but I saw it as an investment and at my urging she picked out some.

A consistent Christmas grinch I found myself excitedly putting up the tree and placing the ornaments with care.

Finally the sun went down and I flicked the switch.

My God it was beautiful, so beautiful that Karen beamed and we hugged each other.

Over a tree.

Why?…

I guess in that moment, we felt we got some points on the board.

I hope that tree may end up in our first home. 

I picked out ornaments to maybe one day be hung by the hands of a child or two.

Regardless of what the future may bring, looking at that lit up tree I felt I had one to look forward to.

If Christmas is truly about giving then my place of employment in 2019 gave me a truly generous gift and one that I will always be grateful for.

More so even given what had transpired for so many in the twelve months that followed.

One more final thing. 

A shout-out to my wife. 

I tried months earlier to untangle the Christmas tree lights.

Eventually I had decided I would hand them over to a charity store and buy a new set. A stupidly extravagant waste of money but one that I had resolved to make. 

One morning Karen said she’d give it a go untangling them if that was my decision. 

I went off and got ready for work and ten minutes later I come back out and she had them all untangled.

My wife had saved Christmas.

-Lloyd Marken