Another Country

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.23.47 PM.pngWhile browsing through the DVDs at the Perth City Library, I came across this cultural gem.  I’ve been trying to soak in information about Aboriginal history and culture and this is yet another great documentary with a lot of meaningful and practical insight.  If you’ve seen the movie Australia, you know David Gulpilil (the documentary’s narrator), he’s the one who played King George.  He was also the narrator in 10 Canoes.

Watching Another Country was significant for me because it confirmed the clash of cultures that still continues today between white and Aboriginal.  It also emphasizes the basic human need to be productive, have meaningful work and be able to contribute positively to your community.  And I appreciated the insights into some Aboriginal views of Christianity.  If you can get ahold of this movie, it’s definitely worth a watch.  I’d love to have a chat with you about your thoughts and any questions that might arise.

Putuparri and the Rainmakers

One of my current units at UWA is called Indigenous People and Social Work.  Indigenous studies is a very important topic in Australia and so it is no surprise that this is one of our first units.  I feel like everything I previously learned and read about the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities is now being reinforced, expanded and given a new Social Work perspective.  I hope that by the end of this unit I will begin to see my knowledge deepen beyond a superficial understanding.  Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 4.50.21 PM.pngA documentary that was recommended to us is Putuparri and the Rainmakers.  I’m not sure how you would get ahold of it in the US but in Australia you can stream it through SBS On Demand.  This documentary talks about Aboriginal culture, history, land rights, the law and so much more.  It is yet another perspective and another group of voices to add to my understanding and appreciation for Aboriginal life, history and culture.

Counting Christmas Cheer

Since we don’t have the snow to remind us that Christmas is coming, we have to rely on decorated shopping malls, cheerily lit homes after dark and our own Christmas traditions to help us get in the spirit of things.  Some of these things are on pause for us because we’re in transition but I can still do my best to celebrate what I can and savor the traditions I can still enjoy.  Here are 14 ways that I try to remind myself of the good things about the holidays and enjoy the anticipation of Christmas.screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-3-53-44-pm

  1. I blogged last week about The Season of Advent.  Having Advent reading, an Advent wreath and pausing at least once a day to read scripture and pray through the season reminds me of what is important during the holidays.
  2. Christmas music!  Once Thanksgiving has been celebrated, I am all for Christmas music.  Christmas music in the car, Christmas music at home, Christmas music in almost every store I walk into.  I love a good mix of secular favorites and Christian songs.  Each are festive in their own way.  It all makes me happy.
  3. Baking and making delicious goodies.  I will do a little baking this week but I look forward to making cinnamon rolls for my family to enjoy one morning and I’m sure there will be cookies made at some point too.  My tastebuds love Christmas.  And the smell of baking treats definitely helps get me in the Christmas mood.
  4. Decorations!  I really enjoy decorating for Christmas but this year in our home all we have is our Advent wreath because we are moving.  However, I look forward to being in my parent’s home and enjoying the beautiful tree lit for the week leading up to Christmas.  Next year we’re decorating right after Thanksgiving and we’ll leave it up until January 6th, 3 Kings Day also known as Epiphany.  I love stretching out the holiday season and enjoying the decorations as long as reasonable to my own standards.
  5. Christmas movie marathons.  I will watch Elf multiple times this season.  We’ve already watched Elf, The Grinch, Home Alone and A Christmas Story.  Tonight we will watch It’s a Wonderful Life.  There are so many good ones!  It’s fun to snuggle up in a warm house when it’s cool/cold outside and enjoy a good movie.  I’m also looking forward to watching the TV classics like Charlie Brown, Rudolf and Frosty the Snowman.
  6. Walking or driving through beautiful Christmas light streets.  Almost every town has a street known for the amazing Christmas decorations.  It’s always fun to gather a few friends, dress warmly, carry something warm to drink and enjoy the shining lights and creativity of our neighbors.
  7. Opening Christmas letters and cards.  In my circles, I have a lot of friends who keep in touch all year around but it’s typical to just hear major updates from people at the end of the year.  I love opening cards, seeing how the families have grown and hearing about the past year.  I enjoy celebrating the joys of life with people and being able to pray through the hard things too.  A mailbox filled with Christmas cheer is a wonderful thing.
  8. Early Christmas shopping.  There is nothing better than having your Christmas shopping done early.  Even if things don’t get wrapped right away, I love not having to think of last minute gifts.  This is definitely the planner in me but it allows me to better enjoy the holidays not having yet another unfinished list.
  9. Christmas wrapping.  Seeing a growing pile of pretty wrapped presents is always cheery and festive.  A little Christmas music or a Christmas movie and wrapping with a cup of hot chocolate is a wonderful way to spend an evening.
  10. Eggnog.  So before this year, I never would have said that eggnog was a necessary part of the holiday but then my sister-in-law introduced me to Royal Crest Dairy eggnog and now I’m hooked.  Although Royal Crest isn’t available everywhere, eggnog will definitely be a staple in our refrigerator this season.
  11. The Nutcracker Ballet.  I can’t always go and see The Nutcracker but when I can, I always enjoy it.  During the holidays growing up it was always a treat to dress up and attend The Nutcracker as a family.  It’s such a festive, entertaining part of the holidays.  And the music is beautiful too!
  12. Stockings.  There is something that is special about stockings to me.  Leading up to Christmas, I love looking at them hanging across the mantle or on the wall if there is no fireplace.  Even if we opened gifts on Christmas Eve, stockings were always Christmas morning.  And my favorite tradition is always finding a tangerine in the toe.  I look forward to making stockings something special for my own kids some day (this is NOT a pregnancy announcement).
  13. Candle Light Service.  There is something particularly beautiful and celebratory about a Christmas Eve candle light service.  It’s a wonderful way to calm our hearts and refocus during a busy season.
  14. Christmas reading.  In the past couple of years I would download a Christmasy book to enjoy leading up to Christmas.  Today, I sat with the pile of my childhood books that we will be shipping to Australia and read through all my favorite Christmas stories.  From The Polar Express to Santa Mouse, these are Christmas classics for me. The Story of Holly & Ivy is precious and The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree always makes me cry.  I fondly remember reading these books as a child and I still enjoy them now.

What are the traditions that help you remember, enjoy and anticipate Christmas?