Finding the Christmas Spirit
WRITTEN BY SARAH LANG
From the Desk at Lost
Many people talk about the meaning of Christmas - the spirit of giving or the celebration of Christ. And I don't always agree with a religious holiday that excludes most of the world. Especially as I get older and become more cynical about the consumerism and commercialisation of it all. But just like Tim Minchin, I really like Christmas. "It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it." It is about celebration. For spending time with your family (be it the one you are related to or the one that you have chosen) and for taking the time to look out for those who aren't as fortunate as us. Maybe it's because we don't have Thanksgiving but I find most Aussie communities particularly generous at this time of year.
Except Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.
For you see, this community is generous 52 weeks of the year, not just in the lead-up to Christmas. I have never witnessed such strength of spirit and comeraderie in a community. When a local has fallen ill, there are offers of meals and rides to the hospital; news of a housefire circulates and before the firebrigade have finished mopping up - clothing, household goods, toys and essential items are arranged. The town's own "grapevine" page on Facebook leaps into action the minute the sirens have sounded.
Every week of every year, at least one pub if not all of them, are hosting fundraisers for community groups, artists collectives, wildlife shelters, people living with cancer. The list goes on. And do the locals ever suffer donation fatigue? If they do, they never show it. For week after week, this community digs deep not just into their pockets but into their hearts.
And whilst our town is rich in beauty and recent tourist growth has brought in wealth, most in our community are hard-working folk. The sort that would give you the shirt off their back. And that includes our incredible emergency service volunteers.
We don't have paid firefighters in the country. They are volunteers. And every Sunday you will hear the testing of the local siren. It doesn't ring for long so not to alarm you. But long enough to check that it is working properly.
For very soon, the romantic sweet smell of wood smoke in Autumn turns to an acrid stench that can cause a physical reaction during the long hot, Summer days. How is it that the same smell in different circumstances can evoke an entirely different reaction and a physical one at that?
So be safe this festive season. Appreciate the incredible work our volunteers and locals in our community do to ensure we all have a fat old time over the silly season. Chat to a local. Pull your car over if you hear sirens. Drop a gold coin the tin. And FFS, pick up your rubbish.
And to keep quoting Tim Minchin, "That wherever you are and whatever you face, these are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world..."
To you and yours, have a safe, happy and very merry festive season. We will see you again in February.