For some people Christmas isn’t a time of joy and happiness, nor does it hold fond memories that stir up the caring, sharing, giving spirit that most of us associate with this season. It is a sad reality that some people in our community this year will be having a difficult time making ends meet over this period and into the New Year. To those people all I can say is that no matter what the retailers and advertisers say, money doesn’t make Christmas (Christmas is now used to make money) and family is everything both throughout this period and the rest of the year. Personally I think Christmas is a time for strengthening and reaffirming relationships, talking through issues with someone you trust and celebrating any successes achieved during the year.
Growing up as a kid I found Christmas to be one of the best times of the year. The anticipation of presents was great and even though I knew my Mum would always be giving us presents that were useful such as a hand knitted jerseys rather than toys, there was always the excitement of wondering what others in our family of seven would be giving, mostly it was homemade or ‘hand me down’ toys. One Christmas my younger brother and I built two push bikes from parts we found in the local rubbish dump. Dad didn’t give presents but would organise for us to do something or go someplace. Sometimes we would end up at one of my many relative’s houses with 8 or 9 other families and there would be the excitement of bull rush and other games for the 30 or so kids there and later the customary midnight Christmas hangi. I realise now that those gatherings were all about reaffirming family bonds and an opportunity to feel part of our wider family but as a kid it was just about fun.
If we stayed home for Christmas dinner then Mum would cook a steam pudding with five cent coins in it. We didn’t care if money in our pudding was sanitary or not as one of those coins meant a walk to the local dairy and 5 to 25 lollies depending on which you preferred. The point of all this is that even though we didn’t have a lot of money we still had a great time and formed great memories of Christmas. There is a saying in Maori that epitomises this Christmas spirit and it speaks about how with your little bit and my little bit all the people will be fed. It is a saying to truly live by because it speaks of uniting to achieve a common goal. Individual contributions towards that goal are not necessarily the same or of the same monetary value but everyone shares equally in the success.
To those who try hard to keep this type of Christmas spirit alive I give my deepest respect and appreciation as the children you teach those values to today, will be the teachers of that same spirit to the children of tomorrow.
Pakanui Tuhura (Manager – Rotorua Budget Advisory Service Inc)