I haven’t been feeling Christmas this year, I’m suffering from seasonal sadness.
When I cast my mind back to just 12 months ago my life has changed immeasurably. I can’t say the end of my marriage has made my life better or worse because it many ways right now it is a bit of both.
Some bits are better, and other bits are worse. My life is just very, very different.
After me monopolising the family Christmas for a couple of years running it is my brother’s turn to have the family for Christmas in Victoria but I’m not going. I thought I should keep the kids close to their Dad for the first year apart, try to keep a semblance of normality and a hint of family togetherness because I’m hoping to maintain an essence of a family unit although we are no longer sharing a home.
I have many offers and options of fun things to do so before you imagine me sitting on the couch crying into a bottle of whiskey and passing out with a mouthful of christmas cake please know I will be doing something lovely with people who love me, but I will be splitting the day.
Morning with my children, and afternoon without the children.
It’s not bad, it’s just not how I imagined my life would be.
I refuse to be sad, although I’m welling up as I write, because it’s just another day, right? I am welling up a bit of late.
I’m unorganised, unenthusiastic and anxious this Christmas. I’m decidedly ‘meh’. I am the Grinch who can’t even be bothered to steal Christmas. I usually love Christmas. I make jams and cakes and I marinate and pickle things, but not this year…. this year I barely made a biscuit.
But then the unthinkable happened and I got a reality check of epic proportions.
A crazed madman, an horrific siege, deaths of innocents. Revolting newspaper magnates selling fear.
All day I kept thinking about those people. I went about my business but they were always in the back of my mind. Their fear…. did they get used to the fear and get bored? Hungry?
I thought about how if I lived in so many countries in the world – Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, to name a few – that this would be normal, this atrocity going on across town that could befall any of my friends at any moment. Then I got scared.
Although we now know that this was just one madman acting alone, and he happened to also be a Muslim, I became fearful of Muslims.
Not at all because of their beliefs, or their choices, but because I live in quite a Muslim area, that is also close the Sutherland Shire where the horrible race riots were on that black bleak Australia Day in 2005.
I feared that my family being every day in shops where my smiling Islamic friends give my children bananas and sneak them lollies would have a retribution on me, just by association.
I selfishly feared for myself and my family. I also feared for my community.
I tried to take a Portrait 365 of a lady wearing a full face hijab, a niqab, the covering where only their eyes are visible. I’ve been hoping to catch a niqab the whole year and when I saw her I stopped the car, not thinking anything of it. I’ve stopped my car many times in the past year to photograph someone that has caught my eye.
It is only now even though I was very friendly and chatty, that I realise that she had probably watched the horror on the news and she was probably scared of me and my request to take her picture.
Imagine. Scared of me, just because of one crazy madman.
And then instead of Armegedon and senseless retribution #illridewithyou happened. People stood together regardless of the race and religion and in the face of tragedy Australia said we are one people. Everything will be ok.
I have no idea if everything really will be ok, and if we really will be safe from the craziness that seems to be taking over parts of the world but at least we can be safe from each other and face whatever comes as a unified front.
Anyway, my sadness is still there, and the reality check of life has actually compounded it a little bit. I am teary, and heavy….. but I decided to pick up my socks, and as I type this my house is full of the aroma of marmalade, because Christmas is still happening and life is often changed irreparably and my marmalade wasn’t going to make itself.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families whose lives have been ripped apart at this time here in Australia, in Pakistan, and everywhere where there is craziness in the world.