Sometimes Christmas seems like the day to show off your financial and social wealth - shoppers rushing to buy the biggest and the most expensive presents, and recipients expecting to receive the same; lavish are feasts spread across tables; and party after party filled with family, friends and laughter and love.
But as I saw today, this type of Christmas, the one that I am accustomed to, is not available to so many in our community. Christmas can be so lonely.
My parents and I have just come home from volunteering at a community Christmas lunch at a Uniting church. We helped serve guests a traditional Christmas baked dinner, prepared by chefs from the local technical colleges. Each guest received a gift.
Some of the guests suffer from mental illness, others are in financial distress. I spoke to some widows and widowers, and also to a couple who have migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka three months ago. Some of the volunteers gave been doing these lunches for years, others came for the first time, just like us. I spoke to one young volunteer who said he has a difficult family life and so volunteering at this event helps him to take his mind off that on Christmas day.
Today at this church, 169 people had a better Christmas. Leftovers were sent to the police cells.
It felt good to be able to give the needy some food and company.
The smiles on their faces and the cheer in the air was really lovely.
Happy Christmas! I hope it has been a good one for you and your family. And if you're alone, I hope you got to partake in a community Christmas.