Coping at Christmas

By: James MacLeod - Managing Director, Tobin Brothers Funerals
Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas in many ways is about change.

As a child growing up, our Christmas meant an early rise and our pilgrimage would begin to my mother’s home town Willuara at the foothills of the Grampians, in Western Victoria.

We would arrive for morning Mass and then lunch would be with my grandfather James (known to all as Jim), who I was named after, and his wife (my mother’s step mother) Mary.

It was traditional lunch consisting of various roasts, ham, homemade plum pudding, brandy sauce and a traditional siesta my dad would have in the rocking chair after lunch.

Around 5pm we would head across to my father’s home town Lake Bolac some 20 kilometres away where all his siblings and my cousins would gather together with my grandmother Mary.

It was always a large affair, many people present, plenty of food. My aunts were magnificent cooks, plenty of beer, wine and especially whiskey.  Christmas very much changed when my grandparents died and Christmas’ were no longer in Willuara and Lake Bolac. My brother and sisters married, had children of their own and we all worked in various states of Australia. 

(Pictured: Norm and Terry MacLeod)

Eventually we all returned and lived and worked in Melbourne and then Christmas was held in our parent’s home. Some of the family would be there for lunch but generally we would all be there for dinner. Mum and Dad were wonderful entertainers and hosts. Christmas day would be filled with great food and much laughter, all of the grandchildren swimming in the pool and enjoying their Christmas presents. My mum loved Christmas Day, she loved doing everything and she always did it with much laughter. Christmas Day never stressed out my mum, with my dad everything had to be timed, he was never late for anything.

The meat was always placed on the Webber early, lunch was always ready on time, what everyone drank was covered, he had that very well organised and the beauty of my mum and dad’s table is they didn’t mind who we brought, you could sit around it, they never wanted to see anyone miss out on Christmas.

In1997 my mum died and that Christmas was certainly a very different one, we didn’t celebrate it in any of my family’s homes, instead we went to my in-laws, Denis and Anne’s, house. We brought with us my dad Norm, my sister Liz, brother-in-law Alex and niece and nephew, Emily and Aaron. Like my mother, Anne is a wonderful cook and a magnificent meal was prepared. Dennis was always most hospitable, he had plenty of supplies…in fact I often thought he was prepared for World War 3.  Whilst the day was beautiful in many ways it was so very different because Mum wasn’t there. Her laughter wasn’t filling the room and her at ease soul wasn’t comforting everyone.

In 1998 our Christmas changed again as Dad died in October of that year.  Prior to both Mum and Dad’s death I’d never thought about how Christmas would be so different without them and how it had changed forever.  I am blessed to have a beautiful wife Louise and great children in Angus and Grace….and we have a lot of fun at Christmas but I still feel a great deal of emptiness without my Mum and Dad, particularly on Christmas Day. 

(Pictured: Louise, Grace, Angus and James MacLeod)

So to those that have lost loved ones throughout the year, this Christmas will indeed be different for you.  It still can be perfect in so many ways but it will be different.

If you know someone who has lost a loved one this year reach out to them and acknowledge you are thinking of them this Christmas. Invite them to share Christmas with you, invite them over for a drink, pick them up and take them to midnight Mass or to the Carols. They may decline the invitation but just by having you ask they will know you care and I’m sure that will mean the world to them.

Tobin Brothers have prepared a helpful outline of some things that may assist you in getting through the Christmas Season. For anyone who has experienced loss, Christmas Day and the days leading up to it can be a very difficult time. Knowing this and preparing appropriately for it can be of great assistance in ensuring that your Christmas is the best it could possibly be in the circumstances.

Our guide for 'Coping at Christmas' can be found here.

This November & December, Tobin Brothers Funerals will also be hosting a series of Christmas Remembrance Services, designed to bring comfort to all who have lost family members or friends during the year, and we invite you to attend and participate.

For more information or to register for a service please visit the events page on our website here.

To one and all, Merry Christmas.

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