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Osher Günsberg writes about his first Christmas after divorce.

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I awoke at seven on Christmas morning to the sound of jackhammers going hard at demolishing the building next door and traffic roaring up and down the narrow street with the cacophony of car horns that is the reality of everyday (and night) in Tel Aviv. It was my first Christmas outside of Australia, and I soon learned that in this part of the Jewish nation of Israel, it’s just another workday.

To be honest, in the years prior I’d grown a bit blasé about Christmas. The commercialisation, the decorations going up the moment Halloween was over, the endless marketing and advertising drive to consume, the fetishisation of new and shiny objects, the blaring of carols — either the super-religious ones or ones about snow and cold. I related less and less to the whole affair.

Yet it wasn’t until I was in a place where there really was no Christmas that I realised I actually missed it.

“Yet it wasn’t until I was in a place where there really was no Christmas that I realised I actually missed it.” Image via Instagram @osher_gunsberg.

Later, when I moved away from Australia to Los Angeles to chase the dream, I began to spend more and more Christmases away from home. The Americans did what Australians do around Christmas, but with a million times more intensity — so I withdrew further and further from the commercial aspect of it all.

However, one of the best Christmases of my life ended up being in the USA, just a week after my then wife had asked me for a divorce.

Like any good divorcee, I was sleeping in the spare bedroom at my mate Nick’s house. I’d spend my days not doing much — mostly staring into space, mouth agape — wondering what the hell I was supposed to do now.

Fully expecting to do exactly the same thing for the next week, two days before Christmas Nick said, “Me and the family are heading down to the beach for Christmas. You’re coming. Pack your things, bring the dog, we leave in an hour.”

So while I was extraordinarily sad (perfectly normal considering what was happening), I felt wonderfully uplifted by this gesture of kindness and goodwill.

Osher Günsberg
“Pack your things, bring the dog, we leave in an hour.” Image via iStock.
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That Christmas Day was really, truly wonderful. Nick’s eldest son came back from college for the day, his two younger boys were also with us, my labrador was in heaven picking up the scraps from the floor. We played cards, watched Christmas movies, exchanged humble presents (budgets were limited to $20 each) and had extravagant afternoon naps.

Through all of this, these people — most of which I’d only met the week before — took me into their home and their hearts, and allowed me to connect with them on a deep emotional level.

I didn’t have my own family to be with, but on that day in Newport Beach — I’d been accepted into Nick’s family as a temporary member free to not only give love and appreciation, but receive love and appreciation, and feel safe and warm in the embrace of a family around the Christmas dinner table.

“Through all of this, these people — most of which I’d only met the week before — took me into their home and their hearts, and allowed me to connect with them on a deep emotional level.” Image via Instagram @osher_gunsberg

All of these experiences did enormous amounts to heal the pain I was feeling, and showed me what’s really important at this time of the year has nothing to do with what all the ads on TV, radio, and the Internet are telling us. It’s got nothing to do with buying things, spending money, or indeed having expectations of things we will get.

What’s important at this time of the year is the loving connection between people. The connection between our friends (which are the family that we choose), our family, and maybe even people we don’t really know that well but who need love just the same.

What was your best Christmas experience?

For more from the wonderful Osher and those luscious locks…

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