A very different Christmas

I finally put up our rag-tag Christmas tree yesterday.

The youngest was keen to help, so I made her take a Clarityne a few hours beforehand.

It made absolutely no difference – the tree was so dusty that she immediately became a sneezy mess and retreated to a kitchen stool to watch from a distance.

She kept insisting a piece of the tree was missing – “It’s too small!” – but I think it’s just that she’s grown so much. The tree seemed huge when she was younger.

As I hung the decorations, I couldn’t stop thinking about a letter I received a few days earlier from Kathy Folbigg, written in her Silverwater jail cell.

It described what it’s like to spend 16 Christmases behind bars, and it was a pretty sobering read.

She wrote: “For me, Christmas is a time of supreme loneliness that is so soul felt it’s hard not to be pulled into the pit of despair that some around me have succumbed to.

“Others take the stubborn enjoy-it route, hanging onto all the old customs and memories of Christmases past and the rites that are involved – present giving, card making, best wishes galore …

“Decorations are handmade, since even tinsel or commercially bought decorations are no longer allowed here.

“We redesign or re-cook our regular food to trick ourselves that we are all enjoying a Christmas feast. Lollies and sweet concoctions are cobbled together.

“Phone calls are made on Christmas morning – we are allowed just six minutes to be part of our family and friends’ day.

“Smiles, laughs, hugs and best wishes are bestowed … many are not sincere, but it sounds good for a few hours. It’s the one day out of 365 that we all get along and civility rules.”

I’ve posted the rest of the letter on the Justice For Kathleen Folbigg website. Click here to read it in full. 

It reminded me how fortunate I am to have spent every Christmas with my kids. The amicable co-parenting arrangement I have with my ex means we’ve always been together as a family for at least part of every Christmas Day.

This year, I will travel to the South Coast to be part of my ex’s family celebration. I’ll arrive on Christmas Eve and be there for the delight of Christmas morning. It will be 24 hours filled with love and laughter.

And I feel incredibly lucky.

Song of the day: Band Aid “Do they know it’s Christmas?”


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