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Presidents Christmas Message 2017

Dear MAREAA members and friends,

For many of us this is a busy time of year, finishing off our work, planning for 2018, thinking of ordering the turkey and what to buy grandma, attending the work Christmas party, thanking everyone for their great work during the year. Hunting for the special white t shirt for daughter’s present (how many white T shirts can there be?!) and remembering to breathe, be grateful and certainly don’t forget to order the champas and pick up other daughter from airport on time!

This could sound like a bad news story but it is not.

The other day I was in a kitchen shop and a lady began talking to me and telling me that she is over her family at Christmas and doesn’t want to buy them gifts, would rather buy for friends and in fact is going to be with friends on Christmas day. On this same day, I was peacefully having a coffee when I heard several people at next table saying how Christmas is such a burden as everyone has to be nice to each other for one day a year.

This sounds like a bad news story and it is.

For our Christmas, we have always invited anyone who would like to share our day and as a result we have had some very rich and amazing experiences. Our children are now well and truly adults (and we have beautiful grandkids) but the tradition lives on and usually one or two of them have invited some people that they know are on their own. Our Christmases are always richer for these invitations. We have had hitch hikers from Denmark, Sweden and USA, very distant relatives about 20 times removed who were on their own (they are still coming, now with their daughter), an elderly couple from nearby, a farmer down the road, neighbours, relatives of the relatives of the neighbours and so on.

Everyone gets a present (small!) and a seat at the table/s (decorated in red and green of course). People bring food, and it is noisy and chaotic and there is nothing chic or glam about it all but it is lots of fun. We celebrate many things: our good fortune to have the opportunity to be surrounded by good people; our love for family and friends and the home we have to share. These are the best gifts of all.

Christmas is a time of celebration, whether through a particular faith or recognising the importance of gathering together to celebrate family and friendship.  However, the common message should always be peace and goodwill to all. This message is not too distant to the work we do in Relationship Education. MAREAA wants all couples, families and individuals in all their diversity to have healthy, growing and happy relationships. We want people to be part of the good news story, especially at Christmas.

I wish for all MAREAA members, friends and families a happy, safe, enjoyable Christmas celebrated with your families and friends and perhaps even a few strangers!

Denise Lacey
MAREAA National President