Edited by Palak Tewary
Embracing the spirit of the holiday season, I’m delighted to showcase a collection of pieces that echo the timeless themes of joy, goodwill, diversity and cherished moments. May these pieces enable you to find inspiration, warmth and a renewed sense of wonder.
Here’s to celebrating the magic of Christmas and cherishing the moments that make this season truly extraordinary.
In Forging Roots At Christmas Afsana Elanko delves into the essence of Christmas: that the trust magic of the season is found within the warmth we extend to others. Coming from a different cultural perspective, her words explore how understanding and appreciation for diverse traditions makes this festive season a global tapestry of shared joy.
Forging Roots At Christmas
Mum had grown up with neighbours who celebrated Christmas, although her own family had never done this, as they were not Christians. But how to celebrate Christmas in the new country? She was keen to get involved with the community. Her upbringing had taught her community was at the heart of any celebration and a way of living. Clearly, food to share was the top priority and, having enjoyed many celebrations Mum had put together, this was what I was looking forward to the most. She had a unique ability to make the ordinary extraordinary.
The door knocked and the elderly ladies came in carrying bags and packages. Mum couldn’t speak English, so she pointed to the corner of the room and the lovely ladies got to work. Now I understood why Mum was up so early, cleaning and moving furniture. She told me to thank them and to help, and disappeared into the kitchen.
I stood watching them at first, and then following their instructions to the dot – well, at least the best I could, at the age of six. They picked me up so I could reach the top branches. There were baubles, lights, ornaments and some wooden decorations. So much shiny tinsel sparkling that I had no idea where to look. Then all of a sudden silence, and all eyes on the tree. They told me to get my mum.
She came, wiping her hands. Picked up a box from the shelf and opened it. Inside, was a pointy glass ornament. She took it out and placed it on the tree and instructed me to switch on the lights. The tree came to life. Cross-legged, I sat on the floor and looked up in amazement.
That evening, the ladies returned with their families. Mum had made so much food. Some food was completely unusual for the guests, but they all enjoyed it. My translation ability went out of the window when I saw all the sweet delights. That day I realised that, if you have a will, there is a way. Mum had a unique ability in explaining things with gestures and the ladies did the same. The common language of community existed.
From that year on, we always celebrated Christmas and shared the food and stories. Mum had found a way to be included and had found her own roots in the community. The reality was sweet, as, when there was one of Mum’s religious festivals, the ladies came around and got involved.
Eventually, our home become the epicentre of gatherings and there was always lots of food, as everyone would bring at least two dishes each. Those memories of fear of each other turning into lovely gatherings is a sweet memory that changed so many people’s perspectives and opened up the community to include even more people. So how about showing some goodwill to all mankind… and let’s start with our neighbourhoods.
© Dr Afsana Elanko, 2023
The holiday season brings with it an atmosphere of joy, laughter and love. In Christmas Mary Walsh has captured this allowing us to immerse ourselves in the merriment that surrounds us during this time: filling us with the infectious spirit of the festivities.
Christmas is not a Christmas ad
Or presents, though these make you glad
It’s peace on Earth
Goodwill to all
Tinsel, trees and lights galore
And thinking of loved ones far and near
And whose lives are lonely, with not much cheer
Celebrating a season, hearts filled with care
With joy and laughter and love to share.
© Mary Walsh, 2023
And what would Christmas be without the meticulous preparations that precede the festivities? In her delightful poem, Christmas Eve, Claire Buss has captured the hustle and bustle, the bells and whistles, the anticipation and the joyous chaos that goes into making the holiday season so special.
‘Twas the night before Christmas…
And all the presents have been wrapped
Even that one shoved right at the back
Tags have been written and smudged
Price labels removed, nothing to judge
Topped with ribbon and a pretty bow
Altogether they make a wondrous show
There’s a carrot for Rudolph and a plate
With a mince pie plus sherry set out late
For our festive visitor who brings with him
Some extra magic, a bit of zip and zim
Parents slump in a heap, it’s been a busy week
Hoping the kids aren’t too excited to sleep
There’s stockings to fill and a last-minute panic
Double-checking and feeling a bit manic
Christmas is primed, Christmas is ready
All the seasonal rubbish lined up on the telly
Sprouts in the fridge that no-one will eat
Cupboards groaning with a merry feast
A tipple or three ready to pour
As we remember our days of yore
Wrapping paper ripped all to shreds
Squeals of excitement ringing in heads
Stuffed full of way too much dinner
Not our year for getting thinner
© Claire Buss, 2020
But at the heart of Christmas are our special connections. In Christmas Special, Claire has reflected upon what truly makes this season enchanting and unforgettable. Nestled in the warmth of our bonds of love, the precious moments we share enable us to create lasting memories.
Everybody knows that you must deliver
A show of wonder and delight
It must make you laugh, make you cry
Leave you wondering why
A Christmas special needs to capture so much
I’m not just talking TV
Christmas has become this pivotal moment in life
The perfect gifts
Perfect decorations, perfect food
Handmade delights and artisan creations
Something for everyone you ever met in your life
Twinkling lights and candles
Freshly baked shortbread and gingerbread houses
A sparkly Christmas tree alight in the window
Exquisitely wrapped presents and beautifully written cards
No fights, no arguments, no mess, no fuss
A special day of wonderment
But we all know
Even with the best will in the world
It’s impossible to get all your ducks in a row
So take a breath
Celebrate the little things
That Christmas morning joy from your kids
At stockings in their beds
And sitting together, laughing and playing
Taking time to say I love you
You are my Christmas Special
© Claire Buss, 2020
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