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.
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.