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The word ‘buffet’ can only mean one thing…

You know you’re from Melbourne when:

  • You’ve spent Christmas day in the scorching heat, summer rain, and winter wind without having to leave your humble abode (and possibly all on the one Christmas)
  • You have no idea there is another ‘football’ final this weekend
  • You’ve experienced the fascination with Degraves St before realising there are equally as good if not much better cafes in other haunts around the city
  • You struggle to find a bookshop other than Dymocks and Readings
  • Your school excursions included at least one if not multiple trips to Sovereign Hill, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Museum and the IMAX
  • You hate mykis
  • You hate the train but you hate the bus more
  • You think St Kilda has a beach
  • You’ve spent family holidays somewhere along the Great Ocean Road
  • You holiday regularly in Queensland
  • You’re pretentious about Melbourne’s food and coffee scene
  • You endorse the city’s rivalry with Sydney
  • You connect with people by asking what school they went to
  • You understand the North/South of the river divide
  • You’ve never even considered having a dip in the Yarra
  • You’ve experienced water restrictions but have taken the longest showers anyway
  • There is always a new restaurant, cafe or bar to explore
  • Your childhood included trips to Smorgy’s (RIP)
  • And The Royal Melbourne Show
  • And the Drive-In
  • You refer to ‘our’ Cate, Rove, Kath & Kim, Hamish & Andy, Gotye, Kylie, Danni (to a lesser degree), Missy, ONJ, Bert and Geoffrey, regardless of whether they were born here, lived here once (for a day), or live here now
  • You know the difference between a good market and a tourist market
  • You’ve taken guests to parts of the city you’d never venture to alone such as the Aquarium and Luna Park
  • CHADSTONE
  • You appreciate multiculturalism (well, at least  you SHOULD)
  • You enjoyed and sent around the ‘How many (insert your school here) students does it take to change a lightbulb…’ chain email
  • You have no knowledge of rugby, soccer, or any kicking sport that doesn’t involve a silly shaped ball that bounces funny
  • You’ve been to the Australian Open during your summer holidays come rain, hail or shine
  • You know Ramsay St rules over Summer Bay any day
  • You live, love and will die in black
  • You don’t understand the novelty of trams
  • You consider your city to be European, and therefore more classy than any other Australian city
  • Knew who Steve Bracks was before a few weeks ago (and that he has a ‘model’ son, pun intended)
  • Wore a uniform to school
  • Have taken ‘fitspo’ pics at the bottom of the 1000 steps
  • Have been to Moomba/The Comedy Festival/any other of the million festivities our city hosts each year
  • Acknowledge that while 40 degrees is uncomfortable, it is not the worst it can get
  • You went to Buller, Lake Mountain or Falls for winter sports
  • Get confused as to the proper name of that station after Flinders St on the Loop (is it Spencer St or Southern Cross?)
  • You hate Docklands
  • You relish 10 minutes of sunshine
  • You have been to The Rooftop Bar/Cinema/The Toff/Cookie and can empathise with anyone needing a good drink and a lie down once getting to the top
  • Eat Yum Cha
  • Eat Frozen Yoghurt
  • Love Able and Game’s gifts and cards
  • There are only two acceptable pastimes for December the 27th – shopping or shouting (at the MCG)
  • You have been to the Races or at least appreciated the long weekend they bring
  • You turn off the news before the weather report
  • You worship Collingwood
  • Or Father Bob
  • Or WOULD if it meant Collingwood would lose their next game
  • You know Woolworths is actually just Safeway in disguise with some sheep
  • You can’t get a job, buy a house or afford rent
  • But will always be able to find new and exciting ways to spend your dwindling supply on money on the weekend
  • You use the underground tunnel that goes from the Belgian waffle place to the centre of Flinders St station
  • You have had Italian on Lygon, Chinese in Chinatown and something Middle Eastern on Sydney Rd
  • You went on school camp to the Murray
  • You know what and where The Edge is
  • You can say you live in the world’s Most Liveable City 
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Choo-choo-chooing from a distance

Boom gates falling

Pedestrians stop, look, wait and wait some more

School kids clatter about, big bags and books on hand and back

A sea of brown, maroon, some blue and grey

Sports uniforms, blazers, prefects with duties to carry out

Angry teens now without protection from Melbourne’s unpredictable cold

Early arrivals home for those lucky enough to escape the workplace before five

Business suits, black, tall, heels, boots

Amongst the children, gossiping and waiting

Waiting, for their train to come

Kids yelling across the vacant space that separates the platforms

And then the void is filled with mechanics, engineering, a silver tube

4pm

TheAge_690x300

Dear Fairfax Media,

Oh, what has come of this new Age?

Today marks The Age’s first edition in a new ‘compact’ format. But, unfortunately the paper I opened this morning seems to have been filled with more advertising than quality journalism one would expect from such a longstanding source of professional news reporting. I appreciate the arduous process you’ve gone through to establish, edit and produce this new Age, but the result is something much more like those trashy tabloids it sits next to in Victoria’s news agencies. The font, the increased type, the colour-coding system… they’re all lost on me, I’m afraid. And despite your claim that this evolution will make the paper ‘Easier to pick up, [and] harder to put down’, my personal track record is telling otherwise.

Maybe it was just the kind of day I’ve had: first day back at university for the year, new subjects, new people, early morning trains to catch, no seat to sit on on a peak hour train, conversations to be had, internet to distract me and breakfast to be eaten. But as I’ve mentioned I’m a loyal, daily reader of the printed news. And this paper is far from welcoming.

You say you ‘Got the answer, no questions asked’, but maybe you should have asked some questions.  You used experts (tick) to monitor readers (tick) using neurological technologies (tick) to gain insight into their unconscious (tick). It sounds impressive when you put it like that, I’ll admit. But consider this sentence – page 20, teal coloured News section of today’s edition – ‘More than 100 readers of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald were asked to read both broadsheet and compact versions of the newspapers in real-life conditions…’. More than 100 readers of two major newspapers? That’s all you could manage? And real-life conditions? Shit, that must’ve been hard to emulate! Now tell me, Fairfax, what was the demographic of the sample you ‘asked’ to participate in your ‘research’? Were they representative of your current readership? The readership you’d like to gain? Or maybe those you’d like to lose? And you say results found compacts were ‘considerably more engaging…”obviously [with] great results for our advertisers too”‘. Well from what I can tell, the greatest advertising source in today’s paper is you, yourselves. Yes, you must have some kind of explanation as to why you’ve made this terrible decision to move to a more ‘engaging’ format but I highly doubt it warrants five pages of advertising within the first 21 pages of space used for NEWS reporting. Is this really the biggest news of the day? And if it’s not news, then your colour-coding is lying to me. On day one!

Additionally, instead of having maybe, six or seven articles to a page, we now have one, and that one report takes up half the space while the other 50% is filled with advertising (and as we established, mostly yours). Your paper is now more ads than news, and the funny thing is, on pages 20 and 21, you’re advertising your new format to those who’ve already made it that far into the paper. Chances are they’re wanting more real news and less ads at this point, yet the surprises today just keep on coming. You explain Matt Martel “spent a couple of hundred dollars buying up French newspapers, Spanish newspapers, Dutch newspapers…” to see what ‘worked’ and what didn’t. But maybe that money could have been better spent interviewing Australians, your primary readers, and you could have applied those findings to your investigation.

And the thing is, it’s not the compact format I am against. I am a frequent user of Melbourne’s public transport system. I like to read my news, in the morning, in print. The broadsheet was awkward to hold and its pages were messy to turn in such close proximity to other commuters. But what I am challenging here, is the content. The way it is presented. The news to advertising ratio. The commercial look. The cheesy use of colour. The font that reminds me of comic sans even though it’s not. The weather page is hard to understand. The ‘cheap factor’ has increased and the aesthetic appeal has been washed away with last week’s rain. And now a footy fanatic must wait until their spouse/friend/family member has finished reading about global politics before they can analyse their team’s victory from Sunday’s twilight match. Or vise-versa. And clealry, that is about as far from Melbournian as it comes.

So, Greg Hywood (CEO and MD), David Housego (CFO) and the Board of Fairfax Media, I ask you, what would the late David Syme, founder and cultivator of your fruits, say about this new Age? Or maybe you could just ask some of your loyal readers, that might be easier.

I want to coin #bringbackbroadsheet and set it off on Twitter. I want you to know how I feel, and how I’ve no doubt, many of your thousands of readers feel. Because today is no doubt, one of the Darkest Days in Australian Media. Stuff sport, politics and the ‘big banks’ lies’ you speak of. You’ve topped the lot. And prepare for the onslaught and retaliation you’ve sparked. Because you can’t change a Melbourne institution without hearing from the people. So hear you will.

I live in a city of changing seasons

Day in, day out, for no good reasons

The sun in the sky and the rain at my feet

When morning calls, and night takes a seat

The puddles, to splash in, a children’s treat

Sensations, observations, my heart skips some beats

A jumper, long sleeves, a brolly in tow

The storm brewing loudly for seeds to sow

The pitter and patter of droplets, quite sudden

Soon become dirty, shoes worn and mudden

Sploshing and splashing, the wet reels us in

But only a trick of nature’s power, hidden

As just when we realise the beauty of wet

Mother N plays cheeky, she plays hard to get

With a clap of thunder on her steel drums

The watery sky silences to only a hum

And out comes the sun, so shiny, so bright

And out come the people, a prompted sight

To catch a glimpse and a ray, a glimmer of light

Before N returns with all her might

To slap down the rain again, and timpani banging

The trickles return, bystanders left hanging

Without an umbrella, a raincoat, some plastic

To cover their heads, words spoken, sarcastic

“Oh thanks, Mother N, for this glorious day

Where I’m lost to the tactic you’re going to play

The game of the weather is much too far skewed

To a sneaky, spell-concocting sore loser like you”

But come warmth, come buckets of water, come hail

Your capriciousness grants us no chance to prevail

Yet somehow we foster, we cuddle your wisdom

And embrace it as truth, in your castle, your kingdom

With actions that speak louder than words, Ms N

Great salutations to you, oh Nature, Mother hen

  1. Hygiene and Sanitation in Communal Bathrooms – bathrooms and toilets in particular have the potential to be inherently dirty and disgusting. But walking into a clean, air-freshened toilet cubicle makes the whole experience so much nicer. No one wants to pee when there’s dirt on the floor, blood on the bin lids and others’ remains waiting to greet you, so I’m thankful for cleaning staff and the majority of the population who respects the facilities they use and the cleanliness of those present before and after them. Leave a toilet how you’d like to find it.
  2. Navy Blue – today I wore a navy blue top with navy blue shorts. As a little kid I hated navy because I was constantly dressed in it but I’m happy to say my opinion has changed. I also wore a baby blue backpack. I’m feeling blue, with a positive connotation.
  3. Honesty – it is pretty rare, so it’s nice to know it still exists.
  4. Location – today I woke up at 7:45am to be somewhere by 10am. That’s early for a sleeper like me. But other’s had to get up at 6am to arrive at the same place at the same time. So I’m thankful I live within close proximity to many places I frequent.
  5. Diversity – today, an ABC newsreader was publicly abused on a Sydney bus. But I am in awe of how diverse our population is. Each person is unique and no one can be defined by a single determinant such as race, religion or age. I am thankful that I’ve grown up in a multicultural society and that I have the chance to meet new and interesting people so often.
  6. Graduation – or more distinctly, the phases one passes through and graduates from within their life. I was in the presence of a young man today who is about to graduate into a new phase of life. Stepping into unfamiliar territory is scary, but he has accomplished many things and is now ready to make this transition. It is important to recognise our small graduations, because they may be significant in subtle ways.
  7. Random Acts of Kindness – I opened a lovely packet of Derwent Artist’s colour pencils today. They had been used many times before but the girl next to me had taken the time to organise them according to the colour wheel. I feel less anxious when things are in order and her small action had also made my experience of scanning the pencils more aesthetically pleasing.
  8. People Singing in Their Cars – while driving today, a song came on the radio and I started humming along, as I’ve taken to doing since driving on my own because I’ve always thought people singing in their cars look pretty silly. So while I was humming and singing the words in my head, I looked in my rear vision mirror and instantly recognised the girl in the car behind me was mouthing the words to the song I was listening to. It was a strange feeling, firstly knowing we were listening to the same radio station (which I’ll admit, must happen all the time without us realising) but then I was reading her lips and hearing the words come through to me via my stereo. It made me smile. Furthermore, we were going to the same destination and entered the building one after the other. And it was a song with lyrics and a video clip I love. So keep singing in your car, it’ll make someone else giggle.
  9. Athleticism – not mine, but observing that of others. Watching someone truly run, with power, energy and determination is a great thing.
  10. Getting to the Station Just Before the Train Arrives – I walked onto the platform and the monitor told me the train would be there in two minutes. Best feeling, knowing I’ve timed everything right, from waking up to stepping outside.
  11. Today’s Weather – Melbourne was a beautiful 28 degrees today. I’m generally a Winter Girl, but today had just the right amount of sunshine, a light breeze and no insanely hot periods. Nailed it, Melbourne.
  12. Coincidence – today I met a girl who’d gone to the same school as me, a few years behind, and yet I’ve never seen let alone met her before. Someone recently noted how frustrating it is that in Melbourne (and possibly other cities/countries as well) people are very quick to ask what school you went to. While she saw it as a negative, and I can see her point of view if it leads to judgement or remains the only topic of conversation, I believe it’s an easy way to make connections with new people, find mutual friends and acts as a pathway to discussions of similar interests and knowledge.
  13. Professionals and Education – being in the presence of someone who actively steers a conversation in a meaningful way as a result of their professional training or knowledge is both a testament to their abilities, and a help to those they are guiding. The value of education is often disregarded, particularly in a society where almost everyone receives a minimum of 10 years of mandatory education and so many go on to complete further training. Amongst my peers, I feel learning in its own right is thought as compulsory rather than voluntary or engaging which means it is often seen as having many, often unwanted, strings attached. We should be able to enjoy learning without the pressure of grades or rigorous study schedules, as well as learning to gain qualifications. Hundreds of people go through all levels of education each year and settle with just passing their subjects so they can get their degree and walk. Education is an opportunity, but I feel it isn’t valued as such.
  14. Flexibility – similarly, education amongst other things, should be flexible. Amidst a group of people I was with today, many educational institutions had been flexible in allowing them to miss a day of school or study, allowing the individuals to better themselves and expand their horizons outside of their primary institution. While rules and regulations are necessary to maintain standards and behaviours of living, being about to be flexible is so important. I am still learning to be more open to flexibility myself, but accommodating unexpected situations, people and new ways of thinking is important for our personal growth.
  15. Preparedness – on the flip side, being prepared is very rewarding. I know that if I’m cold, I’ll get shitty. It happens every time and so for me, checking the weather forecast the day before, for instance, is very important. Despite the beautiful weather outside today, I was inside an air conditioned building for the majority of the day. So I’d packed a jumper. When possible, prepare yourself and life get’s easier.

Yesterday, I worked at the Melbourne Big Day Out. Leaving the house before 8am and travelling home in the dark, it most definitely lived up to its name. I worked at a token booth, selling little pieces of paper to attendees at $4 a pop that with a proof of age wristband, entitled them to enter the licensed areas of the premises and purchase extremely expensive beverages to fuel their drunken fun. For one token, you got water. Two gave you a beer or a cider, while spirits cost you three. I was stationed at one of the quieter booths, which enabled me to get to know the other girls I was working with. There were five of us, plus a supervisor. What follows is a singleminded, stereotypical overview of each of those girls. Please take this with a grain of salt. I have no doubt there is so much more to these girls than this piece will contain. But for the sake of some simplified, cliched humour, I will introduce you to each of them as follows. (Inspired by the lists of Thought Catalog).

The Diehard Music Fan

The Diehard was your ultimate festival go-er. She knew who was playing when, on what stage, and could identify each sound that made its way into our booth with it’s creator, performer and their last performance. She’d celebrated new years at Falls and spoke about BDOs of years past. She proclaimed to have “strategically scheduled” her breaks around acts she most wanted to see, and stuck to her guns, refusing to take a break at any other time meaning the rest of us had to work ours out around her musical preferences. She might have had #99problemsbutfailing3Gaintone because she knew the set lists off by heart. Her friends consisted of likeminded Diehards and when they came within hearing distance of our booth, she took it upon herself to scream “OMG SCOTT! SCOTTTTTTTTT! OI, SOMEONE GET THAT RANGA OVER THERE!”. After blasting our ears and those of the customer she was serving out, said Ranga would then stumble over to her counter being like “OMG NO WAY! HOW DID YOU GET THIS GIG!? THAT IS SICKKKKK!”. Note the use of the word ‘gig’ to identify her job as a sales person – a telling sign of a true muso bunch.

The Self-Confessed Bitch

The S-CB was all over this job. Used to bossing people around as a personal trainer and dealing with perving males while dressed in a skimpy outfit during her “promo work”, she made more sales than the rest of us put together. While not working for money, she spends her time working out at the gym, lifting heavy weights five days a week, and following a strict diet, packed full of protein, training for body sculpting comps which she enters every few months. She has two trophies already, and breaks up with anyone unable to handle her strict eating/lifting regime. She’d prepared her meals for the day and packed them in a Cool Bag to ensure her minced Roo (yes, kangaRoo) and greens, and her two eggs were kept fresh and clean. In answer to the question you’re all wondering, yes, it was clear she Did Lift. Interestingly though, she made fun of all the young girls with intense spray tans waddling around before our eyes, while it was clear she too was sporting one herself. Ahh, the beauty of irony, or is it coincidence? Whatever it was, we all learnt a thing or two about attitude and that her father had paid $50,000 a year for her to attend an elite private school which was “totally worth it”. Good to know you’re using that knowledge well, girl.

The One With No Personality

There’s always one.

The Blissfully Ignorant Immigrant

When told the event was scheduled to receive an impressive 50,000 attendees, her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped. From the developing world, via Adelaide, she spoke fondly of the round tokens in bars of her hometown, and her time dressed up in an animal suit while she supported herself through her studies in the nation’s City of Churches. The only problem was though, her speaking fondling never really seemed to stop. She spoke constantly, of anything and everything, and poached customers from the lines of those next to her. “Excuse me! Excuse me!”, she wailed, trying to attract the attention of those dazed and distracted in the lines before us. She couldn’t understand how so many people would choose to get drunk, during the day time, with relatively no productivity or beneficial outcome other than pure drunkeness. I must admit, part of me struggles with this too. But as it was blatantly obvious to all, it was Straya Day, and what true Aussie doesn’t love a beer or two to celebrate their country’s pride? We told her it’s tradition. “Ohh, is it? That’s strange, isn’t it?” Well whether it is or it isn’t, she sure got the message by the end of the night.

The Mum

All crude humour aside, our supervisor was lovely. She truly helped us through stubborn customers, balancing our books and straightening out any potential harassment issues. She brought us together and laughed at our jokes. We found you could gage one’s usual level of drinking by how they responded to a) the prices of the tokens (and thus, drinks) and b) how many they purchased. We giggled at one man who forked out $200 off the bat, without thought, which would get him 25 beers, and noted others who came for just three or four tokens, managing their drinking wisely and responsibly. We learned about her 21 month old daughter, and about her family and lifestyle. We supported her when her one vice ([soy] coffee) was a let down, cold and icky, and she kept us going through sales peaks and lulls.

The day was a success even if Melbourne’s weather wasn’t. I just hope there aren’t hundreds of kids too sick to go back to school this week because they dressed (completely inappropriately) in short shorts and a singlet, for 40 degrees when I’m sure it barely made it to 20. But I guess that’s a sneaky way out of a new school year, so maybe today’s youth are smarter than we all thought?

Working hard, or hardly working?

Working hard, or hardly working?

I’ve just got home from a run/walk around my local area and although I had no doubts, Christmas is definitely on its way. People are celebrating the holidays by decorating their shop windows, homes, and streets, and citizens dress up and don their cars with antlers.

It got me thinking about the Christmas tradition as I’ve experienced it living in Australia, and how this may differ to other parts of the world. As I jogged past homes I smelled the beginnings of a Christmas feast wafting through windows and onto the footpath. One house smelt particularly – and peculiarly – of salt and vinegar chips, while many others held the smell of barbecued meats, an Australian tradition, through and through. At my house tomorrow, a turkey will be served along with a Christmas pudding and treats that are commonplace in the northern hemisphere.

I live near a street that celebrates Christmas each year by putting on a show of lights, drawing crows of thousands over the 10 or so days leading up to the 25th. I ran down this street and noted the blown up Santas and their sleighs juxtaposed against the Streets ice-cream van and the makeshift coffee stand. While Australian and especially Melbourne weather can be unpredictable and ever changing, it would be fairly safe to assume that in Australia, your Christmas day is going to be warm, if not hot and sunny. It’s funny then, that the holiday has been transposed to our climate and infused with Australian culture, yet we still maintain the traditional elements of the holiday that make much more sense in an environment ravaged by snow and freezing temperatures.

Four years ago, I spent Christmas in Berlin, where it was indeed cold, and Christmas lunch was spent with good friends, a roast, and time by the burning fire. Everything about Christmas screamed warmth and joy, with carols sung as a hearty way of recognising the brutal but beautiful conditions outside the walls of one’s home. Here at home, I find that while many of these traditions are commonplace, it fails to fit our climate, and Carols by Candlelight has turned into a pop concert, rather than a true celebration of the holiday.

However, I guess you could interpret this as our way of acclimatising the holiday to our culture. And I suppose that’s what has occurred over time. But what would happen if we decided as a nation, or it happened that those in the southern hemisphere, or in warmer climates during this end of year period, that we should change our celebration of Christmas to July? I know that religiously, this doesn’t make sense. But so much of Christmas these days is just about shopping, presents and getting together as a family to celebrate each other, rather than the birth of Christ some 2000 years ago. And it’s not unheard of for people or workplaces to celebrate Christmas in July as a holiday in its own right, either. Then a roast lunch or dinner would be more fitting, as would all the reindeers and the chimney’s Santa uses as his entry and exit point to deliver his gifts.

The very fact that Santa lives in the North Pole and uses a sleigh to travel the night skies seems quite odd when you’ve had a 39 degree day on the 23rd of December, and are expecting to sweat your way through another Christmas.

The front page of The Age newspaper today showed a picture of Santa at a popular shopping centre, being fanned by one of his faithful elves, as he did swelter his way through yesterday’s heat. Maybe Australian Santas should decide to wear a more weather-appropriate suit, and ditch the hat for sunnies and stripes of zinc across their faces. Then they’d be promoting sensible sun exposure, too. Of course, I am writing this with a grain of salt (or a few), but I believe they are interesting points to consider.

The other part of the front page story was the tremendous increase of seafood sales over the Christmas period. People were stocking up on crayfish, prawns and lobster for their special day, which is an impressive adaptation as Australian’s may choose to feast on salads and pavlova, saving their turkey, chicken or ham for a cooler day.

In addition, the traditional colours of Christmas are red and green, which no doubt stand out spectacularly against the white snow of Europe and the United States. In Australia, however, they seem to blend in with the local flora, and with the drought now a thing of the past, at least momentarily, pretty much everything outside is some shade of green. Colour is incredibly symbolic across all holidays, countries and situations, and the green and red shades that dominate Christmas are ingrained into us as young children. Interestingly enough though, I can remember being in Venice in the lead up to Christmas in 2009, and what stood out most was the Italians use of white, or yellow lights to celebrate the holiday. There was little use of red or green as opposed to clear, bright globes to bring in the festivities.

Nonetheless, Christmas would not be the same without its traditions, whether they be obviously fitting or not. Colour is incredibly powerful. Take for example, the tragedy of the Sandy Hook shootings last week, and the way in which tribute pages across Facebook promoted wearing the school’s colours in remembrance of those killed. At first, on some accounts, the wrong colours were spread, but it was soon identified that the real colours to be worn in commemoration were green and white. On YouTube and in person, many people wore those colours to send their condolences and commemorate those lives. Similarly, at the one of the victim’s funeral, people were asked to dress in purple, in memory of her life and a person taken too soon. Last month, the family and friends of Melbourne woman, Sarah Cafferkey said goodbye to their loved one sporting the brightest of pinks, Cafferkey’s favourite colour. It is amazing that something so simple can penetrate a wonderful strength and a visible sense of community.

I also think of the people who, at this time of year, as caught in the depths of ill health, or find themselves without a family to go to on Christmas day. It is soothing to know that numerous charities, local groups and hospitals offer their residents a Christmas lunch, as no one should be alone during a time when it is so important to be surround by those who love and care for you. This is true for people of all religions. Even if you are Jewish, Muslim, an atheist, or of a different faith, Christmas falls near the close of another year, where we remember the year that was, and look forward to the year that is to be.

Today, the 24th of December, also happens to be my dad’s birthday, so today we are celebrating him, as well as preparing for tomorrow and all the days that follow.

Christmas time will bring unique experiences for each family, and individual circumstances will have an impact upon how you celebrate Christmas this year. But for all those celebrating, whether it be a birthday (of Christ or of someone dear to you), a public holiday, the end of a busy year in which the world did not end, or in fact, Christmas itself, I wish you good cheer and many happy 25th of Decembers to come.