'This Christmas, I want to say thank you Australia.'

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this Christmas has come about WAY too quickly, and isn’t carrying the festive joy it usually does. We’re all so, so tired. It’s been a YEAR, following on from another YEAR, right? 

Like 2020 sucked but 2021 sucked way harder for many of us, and the exhaustion/depression/anxiety/frustration combo we’ve had rolling around in our bodies has taken its toll. I’m not normally The Grinch, but this year I feel like the Christmas cheer is hard to muster up.

I’ve always seen December as a time of reflection. What did I achieve this year? What would I like next year to look like? It’s always been very self-centred, to be honest - a time to line up some goals and pat myself on the back for the ones I ticked off. 

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2021, however, has not been the year for reflecting on bucket list tick-offs. I’m shocked I have anything to show for it besides knowing every line in Kath & Kim after the 450th re-watch. It’s a pretty depressing reflection seeing a year spent essentially in a life holding pattern, waiting for a country to get vaccinated and feeling enslaved by COVID once again. 

But hey, my year does not remotely compare to the year many other people in Australia have had. I don’t want to diminish the struggles of lockdowns and the mental health toll 2021 has taken on all of us, but gratefulness has always been key to finding the good amongst the pile of shit. Sure, we’ve had a bad year. But it could have been way worse had it not been for the many Aussies who sacrificed, put their health on the line, and did the hard work to get us through.

1. Thank you, health workers.

As someone who is dating a nurse, I saw just a smidge of what you guys went through this year. 

Obviously, a massive thanks needs to go to those who worked in the ICU and infectious diseases departments - right on the front line with COVID, battling to save lives while risking their own health in the process. 


But it’s also been tough for all health workers. GPs who saw patient after patient when cases were spiking, medical receptionists interacting with sick people daily, hospital staff wearing layer upon layer of hot, uncomfortable PPE gear for 12-hour shifts. All the nurses and pharmacists who put their hands up to vaccinate the country, deftly managing our (my) needle-phobias. 

If there has ever been a year in living memory where health workers deserved the biggest pat on the back, it’s been 2021.

2. Thank you, teachers.

My mum is a primary school teacher, and I saw her go to work each week, mid-lockdown, to take care of the kids of essential workers. 

Even now, teachers risk their health daily as we wait for children to get vaccinated (which thankfully, they now can!) 

Teachers really didn’t get much of a mention this year when it came to being front-line workers, but they should have. 

Whether you were working in person to teach the children of essential workers, or battling the difficulties of distance education with kids doing schooling from home, you guys really picked up a heavy mantle this year and we are so grateful (also, you deserve that pay rise).

3. Thank you, essential workers.

I don’t believe anyone copped as much front-line fear as essential workers this year. 

Working in busy supermarkets during one of the most uncertain times in history, becoming the metaphorical punching-bag for frustrated and confused (and sometimes, just plain asshole) customers, then having to police the wearing of masks and vaccination mandates - it’s been a lot. 

Driving trucks into states and cities riddled with COVID. Those working round the clock to contact trace, check in on the sick, care for the immunocompromised. So many people had to go into the riskiest of environments day in, day out this year.

But you kept things going. You kept us all fed, healthy and protected - all with minimal time to even train for this kind of event, often just as confused as the rest of us because we still don’t really know a lot about this virus and how it spreads. That’s huge, so thank you.

4. Thank you, parents.

Maybe this didn’t affect you personally - it didn’t affect me personally - but we should thank all the parents who picked up the education of their kids from home, because damn that is a tough job. 

Teachers train to learn how to manage unfocused kids and how to best walk them through complicated tasks. You guys just had to figure it out for six months - AND in many cases continue to work! 


Lockdown was hard, but doing lockdown and dealing with your own mental health while keeping a smile on your face and entertaining, educating, and caring for kids also stuck indoors is a mammoth achievement. 

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5. Thank you, those hit hardest by lockdowns.

I’m talking to you, Victoria, and you, NSW LGAs hit with the toughest Sydney lockdowns. 

Victorians, you had to go through another lockdown after the hardest, most upsetting year - watching other states gain freedoms while you watched cases skyrocket. Then, right when things were returning to normal, it happens again. I’m sorry you went through that but I also thank you for doing the right thing and pushing through.

Sydney LGAs that copped the tightest of restrictions, you really did the most work in NSW. Unable to leave your designated radius and living with soaring cases around you, this was a really hard year for you guys and we all simultaneously felt deeply for you.

And you nailed it! You guys had some of the highest vaccination rates and rallied together to support each other. Stories of those delivering hampers and frozen meals to the vulnerable in their area, those translating COVID lockdown and vaccination information to those in their communities with limited English, that is true humanity.

6. Thank you, vaccinated Aussies.

This is the biggest one. We would not be where we are today without every Australian who went to their vaccination hub, GP, pharmacy or medical centre to get the jab. 

It was scary for SO MANY of us - I’m needle-phobic; I hated it. We were inundated with misinformation and statistics; it was understandable that many of us got vaxxed with a bit of fear in the back of our minds. But we saw the worth in it - we did it not just for ourselves, but for others. That’s the best, guys. How good that we came together and did the right thing for each other. How heartwarming must it be for the immunocompromised and those who can’t for medical reasons be vaccinated to see the rest of Australia supporting them? 

I’ve probably forgotten some people to thank, but maybe that’s a good thing - you can let us know who you want to thank, and the good vibes continue on. 

Yes, it’s been a shocker of a year, but it could have been way worse if it wasn’t for legends among us - and they are something worth celebrating.

Melissa Mason is a freelance writer. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter

Feature Image: Instagram/Supplied.