We've never needed some holiday cheer more than we do right now.

Even before Monday, were you constantly hearing these words?

“We’re just trying to get to the end of the year… We’re crawling to the holidays.”

And then. Monday. December 14, the day when the whole nation was flung into a shock of panic, fear and grief, the day that will forever be the Day of the Sydney Siege.

And then. Wednesday. The news of an unthinkable, unconscionable attack from across the world. Children slaughtered in their classrooms in Pakistan, a loss of young life on a scale that is almost impossible to imagine.

And it feels like it’s been a year of this. A year played out against a backdrop of a constantly-spooling feed of bleak, atrocious news.

The Sydney siege has ended a year full of loss and fear. 

Ebola. Luke Batty’s murder. Kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. Family violence. Beheadings on YouTube. Planes disappearing and being shot out of the sky. Little boys bombed on a beach. Suicide.

We can’t look away. And nor should we. It’s too important. But  if there is a word for this year, it’s Brutal.

Of course, beyond the realm of war and terror, of atrocities and natural disasters and freak accidents and economies collapsing, it’s impossible that one year – a jumble of numbers, an arbitrary period of time – can be Bad. But at the end of this year, I am not alone in looking around and seeing a lot of struggle. Friends and loved ones are struggling with illness, struggling with loss, struggling to keep their heads above what feels like a relentless tide of negativity.

And now, Christmas.

That word might mean nothing to you. It might belong to a religion that you do not observe, it might mark a tradition with which you didn’t grow-up, but in Australia, right now, it means something we all need – a break. A pause. A chance to reset.


Holiday cheer feels frivolous when there’s so much darkness, but actually, we’ve never needed it more.

Because for those of who are lucky enough to still be standing at the end of this unforgiving year, we need to stop and feel it.

We need to grab onto every moment of joy we can find. We need to recognise how outrageously lucky we are to be here, living in a place where what happened on Monday was a terrifying aberration, not a day-to-day reality. A place where we are safe to send our daughters to school, worship as we want to or not at all, and argue and disagree and speak our minds.

It’s okay to find some solace in family. 

It’s okay to find some happiness in all this bleakness.

It’s okay to seek out whomever you choose to call your family and celebrate them and the small pleasures, milestones and victories of their lives.

It’s okay to gather, drink a glass of champagne and sing off-key.

It’s okay to spoil your children, and bask in their excitement at gifts and fuss and the idleness of Summer.

It’s okay to eat too much, and get too much sun, and dance to the cheesy music that lifts you.

It’s okay to feel the absence of the people who are missing and toast them anyway.

And it’s okay to stop – whether for a day, or for a month – and turn away from the horror.

We need to. And we need the space to hope, despite our wiser judgement, that 2015 will be lighter, kinder, better.

We need an excuse for joy. And here it is.

Take it.

We have never needed to more.

How are you feeling as you head to the end of the year?