While the Queen and her extended family gather at Sandringham for the traditional Christmas, we are more likely to be gathering at the Cotton Tree to celebrate our own traditions of ham, turkey, seafood, sun and swim. Santa handing out gifts and Dan Murphy purchases, rather than the royal cellar, adds to jollity.
For the Queen, 2021 has not been such a good year for family or Commonwealth. Family cohesion suffered from crises natural and generated. Mirroring common experience, Prince Philip, her husband of 73 years, passed away. A favoured son, Andrew, faced the ignominy of global headlines over allegations of historical association with Jeffrey Epstein’s underage grooming and sex activities. Under a hail of global publicity about offence taken and mental health suffering, grandson Harry moved to California with his African-American wife Meghan (Ginger and Whinger), to set the world straight with their superior, elitist advice, and, incidentally, make a bucket load of load of cash outside the Firm, while capitalising on the Royal Sussex titular benefits.
Doubtless the Queen, as any grand/parent like us would, holds the door ajar to welcome the errant pair back into the fold. She will be dismayed somewhat by the loss of access to great grandchildren and somewhat hurt by the allegations of racism and ostracism from the Whingers, all while processing the death of a long time husband. Difficulties come in lumps and 2021 has had some doozies.
Royal duties required the Queen lead the Commonwealth nations through waves of pandemic, while the home country struggled to get ahead of the challenges, deaths and costs. Stoic and gracious as always, Elizabeth persevered in good spirit, though in declining health, knowing from previous experiences that world-threatening trials eventually pass. Lessons can be learned as we move forward.
Christmas, with its opportunity for reconciliation, replenishment and promise of hope is especially worthy of celebration for the Queen and family after such a dreadful year. Church services affirm faith, the foundation and bulwark of our civilisation. Other new great grandchildren have been born to stir the halls of Sandringham with the joy of new life. Many will gather around for traditional festivities and games, quirky to each family. Hearts and relationships can be restored and the New Year looked forward to with promise.
Australian Family Christmas
Events occurring in the royal family are on a grander scale, though little different from what happens in many families like our own. At least we rarely have to run the gauntlet of media holding a microscope (or telescope) to our failings, though there are usually some people who will happily magnify flaws.
Many amongst us are elderly women, now solitary heads of families like the Queen, left alone to mourn the loss of a husband, yet savour the privilege of living long enough to treasure grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Like the Queen, we too, may find that partners drawn into the family by marriage do not understand or value the benefits. The Whingers’ type of unkindness isolating partners from family of origin and depriving access to grandchildren imbeds long-lasting division for many families. Joy lost cannot be retrieved. It must be named and mourned to enable us to move on, though the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are never far from our thoughts. Digital images may be as close as we get to the fruits of life and labour.
Worthiness is not diminished by lack of appreciation from the immature. How we value ourselves holds infinitely more esteem, leaving others to step up to fill the void. Nothing is missing.
For many, the meaning of Christmas in the story of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago may be somewhat lost, along with the practice of faith. Yet the spirit and substance lingers in every family gathering to celebrate Christmas, whether humble as the birth in the stable, beach picnics at the Cotton Tree or royal gatherings in the castle at Sandringham.
With longing and anticipation, families gather together, travelling over distances to excited welcomes. Gifts are exchanged in the spirit of love and generosity, bringing delight and surprise. Memories are made over meals, often shared contributions of traditional ham, turkey and plum pudding mixing with local favourites of seafood and pavlova.
Families sated with food and drink (most likely beer) turn to playing games, usually beach or backyard cricket as a build up for the Boxing Day test. TV favourite to relax with is the umpteenth rerun of Love Actually for its seasonal message of family joy triumphing over difficulties and complexities of loving imperfect people unconditionally. What’s not to relate to and like!
Despite a challenging year, the Queen’s Christmas Day message will, as usual, reach out to us all in a spirit of seasonal goodwill. May your Christmas be blessed, Elizabeth. Thank you for your lifetime of loyal and faithful service. Like many of the older generation you offer to those who have come after the gifts of knowledge of history, wisdom and power of acceptance, available to all who choose to join at the table.
I wish a very happy Christmas to you all. May you and your families be blessed with peace, kindness, good health and happiness in the New Year.