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"Don't worry. I'm not looking forward to Christmas this year, either."

If your social media feed isn’t smothered with photos of people unapologetically decorating their house for Christmas the second Halloween was over, how do you even know it’s 2020?

People were so quick to bring joy to their homes after a year which turned the world upside down. I get that. Normally, that would be me, too.

I’m the opposite of a Christmas Grinch. I love all the glitter and sparkles and food and wasteful wrapping and parties – you know, all those things which are completely unrelated to the birth of Christ.

In fact, usually my Christmas tree is up on November 1. As I’ve always said, Christmas is a season, not just one day. 

But not this year. This year, my tree won’t go up, and I’m not looking forward to Christmas at all. 

I know I’m not alone. There are so many people who have suffered, and continue to do so, because of the global pandemic. The whole world has changed, and has been unchartered territory for much of the year; so for many of us, the light at the end of the tunnel is not bright enough just yet.

Then, just in the last week, we've seen the Northern Beaches cluster in New South Wales. For many who were looking forward to Christmas, their plans may have been decimated.

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Things mums never say at Christmas. Post continues below. 


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For me, this year, it’s also that my sister died. Suddenly, just a few months ago. To say we’re devastated feels like an understatement. 

Amongst many other things, Raji was the Christmas Queen. I can’t bear the thought of celebrating without her.

I can’t put out my collection of Christmas snowglobes, the little ornaments my son made when he was little, and certainly not our tree. These activities which I have so enjoyed in the past, seem trivial against the enormity of what I have faced recently.

Part of it is I’m not motivated to make the effort. But mostly, I have no Christmas spirit at all. I never thought I’d say this, but I just don’t care.

My son and I are home in Adelaide, to be with my mum; but it won’t be a celebration. It’s too soon. How can we feel Christmas joy, when at every turn there will be a memory of what we did with Raji? 

In recent years, Raji hosted Christmas lunch. It was a bona fide extravaganza of food and presents and her signature trifle. We’ve got a big family, and it would be noisy and fun, the kids in the pool for hours while adults rested full bellies; and it was all thanks to my sister’s efforts.

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Instead of the usual festivities, this Christmas I will be looking at the faces of my sister’s sons as I give them their gifts, knowing there is absolutely nothing that will ever replace the presence of their mum.

I will look at my own mother’s face, which is not ready to smile yet.

My two other sisters and I will look at each other, knowing we can’t fix this.

But most of all, I will be thinking of how much Raji would want to be there.

And so. I couldn’t bring myself to put up the tree in our home this year, or decorate the house. Not even a wreath, for my son. Luckily, he’s 13, and to be honest, doesn’t want to do it either. We talked about it and it just didn’t feel right.

This is why I get that for others, who’ve suffered losses of loved ones, friends, jobs, homes…this year, Christmas feels very different, too.

But, I am looking forward to Christmas next year, because that’s the thing about human nature; we will adjust, and accept, and make the most of things. Eventually.

Next year, we will hopefully be put up our trees and order seafood and hum Christmas carols, grateful to be able to. Happy to be alive, in good company. 

That’s something to look forward to; one day not dreading Christmas because my sister isn’t there.

Nama Winston has had a decade-long legal career (paid), and a decade-plus parenting career (sadly unpaid). You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.