My brother is currently visiting Paris over Christmas. He posted a photo of a poster they spotted encouraging people to travel to Australia. It depicted kangaroos bounding down a pristine white beach.
Have you ever noticed how the brochure for life and the reality are often very different?
Christmas is a time for many “brochures” many images about what life at Christmas “should” look like.
A beautifully decorated Christmas tree with an avalanche of gifts when for some the reality is very different. Perhaps a tree with multiple gifts doesn’t fit your financial budget. Perhaps decorating or shopping doesn’t fit your time budget. Perhaps you’re struggling to find space to even fit a tree in cramped housing, or have no housing at all. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one and can’t even contemplate Christmas.
Yet the message is clear. Happy families with beautifully wrapped gifts under a magnificent tree laughing, smiling then sharing a sumptuous feast that rivals a professional chef.
Nobody else burns the turkey. Everybody else has kilos of prawns. Christmas cake is homemade and never dry. Children’s wildest dreams come true. You’re a perfect host, with handcrafted decorations, bespoke food and quality appreciated gifts in coordinating wrapping papers.
Truth is more like dashing to the shops Christmas Eve after realising you’ve forgotten someone’s gift… I guess a box of chocolates it is then. Getting distracted and having slightly too brown shortbread. Screaming for the millionth time “I said DON’T TOUCH the presents under the tree”. Being woken too early after going to bed late. After all you had to get up again at 4am because Santa forgot to eat his cookies.
Christmas is trying to explain to your disappointed child that Santa’s budget didn’t extend to that very expensive must have item.
After presenting the hard fought for and planned meal you feel kind of annoyed to scrape it into the bin barely touched because they are full from gobbling up their entire Christmas stocking contents before 8am.
Then you dream that perhaps next year you’ll go away and pay someone else to cater.
Yep, not the brochure. Reality. Tears. Overspending. Frazzled nerves. Time with family, even the ones who fit the “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives” category. Crowded shops after busy carparks. Hopefully some smiles, laughs, feelings of love.
Then, just as you thank God it’s over you debate Boxing Day sales only to remember that now you need to plan New Year’s Eve.
PS back to the kangaroos brochure. I’ve never seen a kangaroo on a beach.