Bringing in the New Year

Fireworks, photo by Randall Chacon, Santo Domingo, Costa Rica, important celebrationsTonight, everyone the world over is attending a major celebration in their own city, usually involving fireworks, to bring in the New Year. It’s a beautiful event and can include different rituals in different cultures. In Sydney people gather at Sydney Harbour and the Opera House and celebrate watching a firework display for children at 9pm and another more spectacular at midnight. Those who stay at home watch the fireworks on their TVs which means we see celebrations in other parts of the world too.

when my children were small
we watched the fireworks from
our homes in the suburbs and then
after midnight played a friendly card game of 21
this is when we determined our luck for the year
it was thought that if you win it will be
a prosperous year for investments
however, if you lose then it was considered
in your best interests not to take risks
nevertheless, we had fun playing with
family and friends

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Devil woman

Paper devil, photo by Brian S, Jakarta Indonesia, no faultHow often have we heard “the devil made me do it”? In actual fact we make choices and sometimes we regret these choices and find it necessary to blame others in order to save face. This is especially the case when the consequences are not wanted. No one can make us feel anything we don’t want to – we allow them to make us feel in a certain way.

he had cheated before but convinced his wife that
it wouldn’t happen again and she believed him
then one day he disappeared with his best friend’s wife
she suffered for two weeks not knowing where he was
then he came back and professed his love for her
insisting that he did not love the other woman
but that she had thrown herself at him and
eventually he weakened and gave into her spell
the devil woman made him do it
that was the line that convinced his wife
it was impossible for them to
have a happy life together so she ended it
to this day he cries over being dumped by her
and his friends actually feel sorry for him!

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Isolation

Black 5, photo by Ana Labate, Santos Brazil, alone timeIt’s so easy to justify isolation as being time alone. When you prefer to be alone rather than being a part of the community and feel intolerant about everything and everyone then it’s a warning sign that all is not well. To ignore that is to toy with serious consequences. Many people would rather suffer than do whatever it takes to heal. Sometimes all it takes is writing about how we feel until the core anger or fear is released. Other times it may take joining a group to share similar interests or hobbies. Another solution is seeing a doctor or therapist to sound out your innermost thoughts. Perhaps there may be a need for a change in diet, exercise, or taking supplements (vitamins). It could be you need medication or anti-depressants under doctor’s supervision. Or all of the above. Whatever it is, don’t let the dysfunction or ill health ruin your life and that of others. Deal with it and turn your life around to be more joyful and fulfilling.

she’s in her eighties and totally alone
full of complaints about her family
whom she feels has abandoned her
over the years she’s had interesting friends
for short periods of time because
she constantly ‘leaves bodies in her wake’
her dysfunctional behaviour shows as
meanness and blame levelled at all ages
any suggestion for therapy or medication
incurred her wrath
then one day as a result of some
medication for vertigo for 2 weeks
she seemed so sane and serene
then she stopped taking the meds and
life was misery again, for her and others
yet she could not see the difference!

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Silly season

Pills, photo by Klaus Post, Aalborg, Denmark, prescribed pillsThis is the time of the silly season when there has been, for some, lot’s of drinking, drugging, eating, smoking, gambling and other excesses. At first it has to do with fun but memories come rushing back hooking in nostalgia and in some cases abuse in childhood or earlier relationships, so these excesses are then used as feelgoods. One of the most hidden addictions is pain-relieving pills. Whilst the intended relief is to ease physical pain the medication used can momentarily ease the emotional pain of life. Having the spirits lifted in that manner can lead to people using pain-relievers to make themselves feel better when they feel low or tired.

her injuries, sustained in a couple of serious accidents
caused immense pain now and then
but as a professional, experienced in addictions, she was
loathe to use pain-relievers unless absolutely necessary
and only for a short time under doctor’s supervision
recently she disclosed to me that she needed to
take some and she was afraid that it could be addictive
even though she avoided that before
I suggested that because she was aware of this
and her past experience
then perhaps that would not be a problem
next time I saw her we talked about the pain-relievers
and she mentioned that the last time she took any
was for the physical pain, then she got the urge to
take some to make her feel happier and when
she realised that was for the wrong reason
she didn’t take any more
it gave her great strength to be able to do just that
which also made her happy to be free of the need
this is possible for those who haven’t been addicted
but those who have been, and have managed to abstain,
then it’s too risky to even
contemplate strong pain-relievers

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Family gatherings

Paper family, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia,  family reunionsAt the end of the year, for the festivities there are many family gatherings. Relatives get together to celebrate and have fun. Sometimes this is a wonderful experience and at other times the unintended happens with arguments and hurt feelings. The success of family gatherings depends on the members of each family and how important it is for them to strengthen family ties. When people can put principles above personalities they can enjoy fulfilling relationships in their families and can spend enjoyable get togethers. Instead of becoming offended about something it’s better to ask “how important is it?” and let go of the hurt.

each year her family comes together
and it’s an enjoyable event that she
looks forward to each time
kids grow up and have their own families
so the family gatherings that parents
can depend on taking place
become fewer and therefore
even more special
she thought herself fortunate
that her family continues to value
attending these yearly events with her
which brings them all together for some fun

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Christmas Day

Christmas Decoration, photo by Law Hui Sheng, PJ, Malaysia, Happy ChristmasIn this country Christmas Day is a ritual that’s a great pleasure to people of all ages. The religious folk attend church and those who are not religious participate in other activities which define the ritual of Christmas, including public holidays. Christmas cards would have already been sent out, a Christmas tree decorated, special food and presents purchased to enjoy on this day. Children wake up early to open their presents which are kept under the tree, including the special ones from Santa Claus. Then still in their nightwear everyone enjoys a breakfast together. People not of the Christian faith, even Christians whose Christmas Day is on 6th January, have been known to also participate in this process as it’s part of Australia’s identity. In time hopefully we will all become more familiar with, and celebrate, rituals of the other cultures which make our society multi-cultural.

some of my grandchildren’s friends are of the Jewish faith
and have been eager to decorate a Christmas tree
therefore next year it was suggested that a
Christmas decorating party be organised to
do just that and give them the experience
how delightful the way that children can
share their cultural differences in a way
that’s full of friendship and fun
an exciting learning curve which
fosters love and peace

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City Christmas decorations

Christmas Tree, photo by Martin Boose, Dresden, Germany, Christmas EveRemembering our history and that we are a country which has its foundation in the Christian faith, means that Christmas has been a huge festive event. Now that our society is multi-cultural it’s important that community education raises awareness to other cultures’ festive days too. Government claiming fairer treatment across all religions and rationalising expenses need not have reduced the city Christmas decorations. Such action is not good for our reputation here and overseas. Even if a portion of the community is secular there still needs to be a splash at Christmas especially in each major city, as in the past. So government funds need to be allocated accordingly.

I met with my family to celebrate Christmas Eve
tomorrow it’s their turn in their own homes and
then at the homes of the other side of the family
as the family grows so do the in-laws!
on the way home we drove through the city
to see the Christmas lights and decorations
even though I am not religious it’s
the time of the year I enjoy because of
its festivities and people’s joy
to our disappointment the city was almost bare
gone were the beautiful decorations at Sydney Town Hall
earlier today some tourists witnessed the
lack of decorations and perhaps this explanation sufficed
that government want to spend the minimum on a
Christian celebration so that the rest of the community
would find it fairer and so that money is not wasted!
then why did government not just increase their spending
for other cultural festivities and continue with the
usual Christmas festival?
government certainly spends a lot more on war, moreso
peaceful festivities warrant a larger chunk of the budget

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2 sleeps to go

Christmas, photo by Bartek Zielinski, Glowno, Poland, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/678266, Christmas DayChildren’s favourite words today are “2 sleeps to go” and with that we realise the thrill that goes with the anticipation of Santa’s visit which results in more presents for them to open at Christmas. Life at this time of the year is quite joyful with people busily celebrating the festive season by partying, and shopping for gifts to exchange, regardless of their religion or their socio-economic position. Also around this time of the year, charitable and benevolent organisations increase their activities to raise money for those people in need of financial and emotional support. The spirit of giving such support increases this joyful atmosphere. Watching the joy on children’s faces is another huge reward.

my youngest grandchild left me with the instructions that
I need to remember Santa is bringing me a present only…
if I am nice!
considering she is not quite 4 years old this means I am
going through a huge refresher in humility as I
agree to follow her instructions
nevertheless the confidence she shows in
giving me these instructions gives me
several ‘warm and fuzzies’ which hook in
my inner child and memories of my infancy
with the joy of the festive season and the gifts

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Loving and caring at Christmas

Christmas ornament, photo by Kinki Chew, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, cc.1asphost/mydreamsland, Chrismas timeChristmas time can be exciting or upsetting or both. When there is enough money to pay the bills and to spend on presents and holiday activities most people find it exciting. On the other hand, a shortage of money to do those things can be somewhat depressing. Yet, regardless of their circumstances, people generally have managed to enjoy themselves at this time of the year. A deciding factor is also how a person experienced Christmas in their childhood. Some families with limited finances had a wonderful time at Christmas and learnt to laugh and enjoy the festivities which created happy memories for them. Others who were fortunate enough to have the money to shop and to perhaps go on holidays too, also have good memories. Then again those people who were unhappy as children remember the pain at Christmas, so for them it is an unhappy time which hopefully they try to grow out of in time. It’s heartening though to remember that there are many people who work together to make life better at Christmas for those who are not as fortunate as others and who need all the loving and caring they can get – financially and emotionally.

she remembered how sad her childhood was
as her family was so poor that they ate
bread and dripping as a treat but
at Christmas time it was a happy time
no matter how little money they had
although her father gambled his pension away
there was always some sort of presents
for her and her brother and sister
as she got older she realised that
her mother created that miracle
it was so important to them having
something to look forward to every year
they even got to go on holidays to the
town her father came from where they visited
their grandparents who gave them more presents
no wonder it is so important to her
that her children enjoy Christmas time

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Male influence in the family

Walking the trunk, photo by Janet Burgess, Geneva, Switzerland,  paternal  guidanceAs a family therapist and as a woman, I am pleased to see the growing nurturing role of men in family relationships. A man nowadays does more than provide financial security and play with his children. Usually he takes more of an interest in the child’s choices in life and is more supportive of their achievements, apart from sport. A man is not ashamed to take on a more nurturing role which was once only attributable to a woman. Likewise, a woman has more of an active role in what was once considered only that of a man’s, so the sharing of responsibilities is both effective and welcomed for the progress of humanity. Therefore, male influence in the family can provide a more balanced foundation for childrearing.

he remembered that as a child his father was
emotionally unavailable to him
sure, he played with him and showed some
interest in his son’s sporting activities but
if they were lesser talents than that of his father’s
then the criticism and insults were extreme
what’s more his father did not show pride in his son’s
academic and chess playing achievements
fortunately, it can be said that the son is
a better father, more responsible and caring
and this sometimes happens in opposition to the
inappropriate behaviour of a dysfunctional parent

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