A bittersweet Christmas

After another year of COVID, Jayden Battey acknowledges the sense of loss many are feeling this Christmas.

For so many of us, Christmas is bittersweet.

Sure, there’s much to be thankful for – not least our longed-for freedom after so many months in lockdown. But there’s something about being together with the people we love that potently reminds us of those who are missing.

On December 16 last year, my wife’s Nana passed away. Christmas was her favourite time of year. A Kiwi, she lived in a coastal Auckland town, and while my wife was allowed to travel home to mourn and say goodbye, I watched her funeral online from Melbourne. For some reason, wearing the All Blacks polo she proudly bought me before her death made me feel just that little bit closer. Because of her, they’re my team now too.

COVID has left us wanting. There are moments from the past two years that feel like they were stolen from us. With Christmas so close, can we really expect to just give those up in the name of tinsel and Christmas turkey? Some of us aren’t done mourning.

Somehow, we’re going to have to balance the joy and pain of Christmas together; to hold them in tension. And maybe that’s ok.

On Christmas Day we’ll laugh, sing, eat, dance and celebrate. We’ll put Nana’s bauble on the tree and remember her. We’ll feel sad, and joyful – together, at the same time.

In some ways, Christmas Day will be like every other day: a rollercoaster of highs and lows. But with carols in the air and family by my side, I may just be more conscious of savouring both better.