It’s Christmas again. That day everyone builds up to be the pinnacle of family celebration. For many here it still is, but there’s a sense of reality or perhaps sadness too that Christmas isn’t what it used to be or what it’s ‘meant’ to be.
Well, as my father rightly says, “it is, what it is! Better make the best of it”.
So I want to stop, wish you a very special Merry Christmas, and say thank you for being here with us at Starts at 60 every day.
This is my fourth Christmas message at the helm of Starts at 60. I’ve always pledged that we would staff Starts at 60 on Christmas Day because it is more important at 60-plus than at any other age that you have the community around you and a feeling of goodwill.
Newspapers stop being delivered on Christmas day, families may stop calling round because they’re busy elsewhere, but your need for a community that cares for you is very real, and that’s the role we hope we play in your life, as your conversation and community online.
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We know that to some we look like media. But to so many others, we are more and for both we are grateful – that you choose to spend your time with each other and with us.
Over the decades our community’s Christmases have changed enormously and having spent our everyday with you here online we know many of the truths of your Christmas.
One thing is for sure – Christmas today is not how the TV ads depict it. The perfect family no longer sits around the perfect Christmas tree, with three generations all in one place for a breakfast, lunch or dinner of dignified family moments. In fact, for most families, globalisation and a digital world means those days are long gone, relegated to dreams, linked to our nostalgia and sense of romance about what life should be. And our reality is what replaces it.
The truth is many people will be alone, or at least without significant members of their families this Christmas, with children and grandchildren on other sides of the world, making their way in life in an increasingly global world. Many will be present at a family event where others are missing, so the event will feel a little more empty, but still fun just the same.
Some of our community have lost their partners and be facing their first Christmas in decades on their own, really feeling the isolation for the first time. And others will be enjoying whatever morsels of time they can scrape from the busy lives of their children.
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And we shouldn’t forget that for some, it is the beautiful day of family that you look forward to year after year.
As you do so, think of the others around you and know you are all facing the same feelings of love, remorse, sadness, loss, hope and maybe it’s worth talking about.
As for me, for what feels like the first time in forever, I’m having a giant family Christmas where every single child in the younger generation of my father’s family is together. We’ve crossed the world from Australian summer into the American winter to make a moment where these children can build bonds as a family, and selfishly, we can all catch up with our siblings – my father with his brother, me with my brother, and our kids … all together.
Moments like these are rare, so rare we have never had one with my father, my brother and myself at the same Christmas event for 20 years, since my brother moved overseas. Maybe, if we’re very lucky, it’ll be a white Christmas too. Dreams are still worth having!
So from all of us at Starts at 60, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!