For my school holidays in 1965 I was staying with my newly-wed brother and his wife’s family in country NSW. On Christmas Eve my brother drove me to the town’s telephone booth for the obligatory call home.
Wow, a telephone booth! As a kid growing up on Kangaroo Island a telephone booth was an invention ahead of its time. I’d never seen one, let alone ventured into one. Exciting steps indeed.
Back in those days the making of a long-distance telephone call wasn’t as ‘modern’ as the booth we were making it from. One was required to book a trunk call, and the waiting time – on this occasion – was two hours.
Two hours of picking up stones and throwing them at fence posts.
It was, you could say, a ‘remote Christmas.’
Fifteen years down the track every Christmas the parent’s house was packed to the rafters with family and friends. It was the only true annual get-together that we and others families would enjoy, and everybody made every effort to share it.
“Christmas comes but once a year,” so went the old saying. And it was that once in a year opportunity to see family from afar and actually speak to them face to face.
And that was the Christmas scene for the next few decades. Christmas 1965 seemed many lifetimes ago.
But is 1965 catching up to us?
Over the last few years I’ve heard more and more people announce with a sigh of relief that “our Christmas will be spent with just the two (or three or four) of us. Quiet and relaxed.”
With more than a touch of irony, one wonders if modern technology is the vehicle that has allowed 1965 to catch up.
Through modern technology we no longer have to wait for Christmas for the rare get-togethers. Phone calls are a breeze to make, we can Skype (or face-time) friends and family afar, we email each other what seems a hundred times a week, we can share family photos on Facebook or Instagram, and we can now fly interstate relatively cheaper than we once could. Friends and family are with us … always … and not just in our thoughts. Some would say they are in our faces!
After a year of constant communications and visitations … Christmas is the opportunity for some to take a break, wind down, and put the feet up.
And that’s what a lot of people from our generation propose when we ask; “Whachya doin’ for Chrissy?”
Maybe that will one day become the new tradition. After all, we can now have (a sort of) Christmas about 200 times a year.
History will, of course, prove me absolutely wrong, so in anticipation of my complete failure in predicting one of the greatest social upheavals of our lifetime all that is left for me to say is …
Merry Christmas, everybody, from Carol and I.
Kaye Lee once said that we at The AIMN are all a family, and it is a family that Carol and I are proud of, whose company we cherish 365 days a year. If you’re not doing anything on December 25, this is one family you are welcome to spend some time with.