Presence & Presents

Christmas bells

My family hasn’t been very much into Christmas for the past couple of years. Also, there’s really only members of my direct family (parents, and my brother Brandon) who are really around. All my aunts, uncles and cousins live overseas in Indonesia, except for one of my aunts in Sydney. We don’t really keep in touch.

Growing up, I had never really been around my extended family. My grandparents passed away when I was young or before I was born. I have visited Indonesia a couple of times over Christmas, but we didn’t get completely into meals or gift-giving. It was more casual and we just enjoyed being in each other’s presence.


I’ve never really known what it’s like to have an eventful Christmas with the family. Every time someone has a Christmas party, I am not sure what to expect. I’ve experienced work Christmas parties from three different companies. All of them were different but involved drinking, and in two cases, loud music. I couldn’t quite get into that.

At my first full-time job, for a small company, we left work early and went out with the other people in our shared space and had lunch by the beach. We had a good chat about everything except for work, and that was nice.

The year after, I worked for a company that held regular parties. I was used to their parties by the time Christmas rolled around. The party itself was boring, and a disappointment.

Our work Christmas party was last Friday, and it began at lunch time. Our chefs cooked us a huge lunch, and the tables were decked out with beautiful Christmas decor. Paper snowflakes and lanterns adorned the ceiling as the many of us in Sydney wished we got snow this time of year. Many people dressed up in red and green or wore dorky Christmas sweaters. I had lunch with people I didn’t normally have lunch with and it was nice being able to have a friendly conversation with them.

At around six, I met up with Nick and we went to his work Christmas party, which was at a bar in the Sydney tower. I realised that despite being somewhat reluctant to go, I was happy to catch up with my old friends.

On the weekend I spent time with some of Nick’s family. It was nice because I never really experience that with my own family. At the same time it’s almost strange to be welcomed into someone else’s family who celebrates Christmas a lot more than yours. It’s by no means a bad thing, but I think it has helped me appreciate the festive season a little bit more.


I got over presents a while ago, and in my family, we just asked each other what we wanted, or prodded each other if there was something we wanted in the lead-up to Christmas. It’s difficult to buy presents for each other and I think we can all admit we are rather picky, so rather than buy something someone else dislikes, we acknowledge the Christmas season without gifts.

I participated in a Secret Santa at work (and I remember participating in them at The Fanlistings Network a couple of times, though not this year) and I ended up getting someone who was in my team, so I knew perfectly well what he liked. I bought him a range of his favourite types of candy (cola bottles, gummy bears and sour candies) and I think he was pretty thrilled. He could guess that it was someone from our team because only we would know what his favourite candies are!

For the past few years I have spent time creating Christmas cards and not expecting an exchange, instead enjoying creating the cards and writing messages in them. I love writing Christmas cards – they are like my one true excuse to be super cheesy and thank someone for being an amazing friend or an amazing part of my life.

I enjoy finding gifts for the people in my life, and I feel very happy if I come across something I know they will love. It’s a good feeling to get someone something that will put a smile on their face, a feeling that is far better than the feeling one gets when opening their own presents.

Comments on this post

It’s really interesting to read about your ‘traditions’ or ‘non-traditions’ because we all experience this time of year differently. It would be really odd with a work christmas party, but when it works that is a bonus (although an actual bonus might be nice too haha – I don’t know if that is even a thing in Australia… anyway.)

Personally, I love writing cards and picking out gifts as well. I am not afraid to be over cheesy because I think you can write what you really mean and that is okay (well, if you are the kind of person that means to say good things). So I completely understand what you mean. I have always loved getting your cards over the years. :’) <3

My resisting powers have been out of this world and I have still not opened your gift you sent. I plan to open it on Christmas day. :D <3

I also prefer to buy my friends and family something that I know they want for Christmas. While the element of surprise can be magical, it can also be a disaster if the person doesn’t like what you’ve got them and you’ve wasted money on an unwanted gift. I mean, I know it’s the thought the counts but I’d much rather buy something that I know that person wants.

We had a Secret Santa type thing at work but it was really weird as you didn’t know who you were buying for. You just had to buy a present. We all ended up with really odd gifts because it’s so difficult to buy something that everyone would like.

I think that was one of my favourite things about my work’s Christmas meal; chatting to people I don’t normally chat to. I ended up sitting with the director of the company so it was a really interesting evening.

I agree! If I can think of a perfect gift for someone that can be a surprise, I go ahead with it, otherwise I do try and ask. It’s also nice when people make a wishlist and let you choose. Though it can be a disaster if you get them the same gift as someone else they showed the wishlist to!

That sounds a bit silly, it would be useful to know who you were buying for, at least!

It’s been so long! I like going out and picking up gifts for people, which I know they will like. This year Christopher basically picked his entire gift, because we happened to be shopping for others and found his stuff. I like the surprise, so next year I am making sure that doesn’t happen. Our secret Santa at work got cancelled, not enough participants, but we did a goodie day and after Christmas is our lunch, there was just too much going on before hand.

Traditions are really important in our family, since we are so small. After my grandmother passed away it was even more important, it becomes the glue that keeps us together. There are not many people I know that do not celebrate some sort of holiday during December.

I’ve noticed that people with very small families have regular traditions on special occasions. I come from a big family but we’re pretty much the only ones in Australia so we don’t have many traditions. It’s a bit sad, but I like reading about other people’s traditions. :)

I like giving people gifts to make them happy, but I enjoy just being around them to be honest. Though, sadly with the accident that happened on the 4th, it zapped me mostly of my holiday spirit but I am getting it back slowly. I’m still sad about a lot of things, but I’m doing my best.

I’m exactly like you when it comes to family and Christmas, work and Christmas. I went to a work christmas party a few weeks ago, it wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. Just loud music, people trying to talk to each other but the music was TOO loud and so everyone was just sitting and drinking until they would pass out. I don’t drink often or like binge drink so I was sat there awkwardly with my managers completely drunk. It was a weird experience, I have to say.

I don’t expect presents either, I just sort of sit and wait for this day to pass. I’d prefer spending time with loved ones definitely over presents! But sometimes, especially friends are hard to get hold of during this period. My family aren’t very christmasy so it’s always hard to get into the spirit.

I stopped drinking a while ago, and sometimes I enjoy socialising without being surrounded by drunk people. But a lot of work parties tend to have a lot of people drinking. When I went to my first big work party (as the company was quite big), I was a bit unsettled by all the managers drinking and how ‘okay’ it was for everyone to be drinking so much. I guess that’s how it is!

I think this Christmas has made me wish my family got more into the spirit as well. Most of my friends go away for the holidays.

We don’t really buy gifts for Christmas. This is usually a tradition to be followed during Diwali. But since a couple of year, my parents and we don’t tend to buy things just because the day says so, we buy them when we need them.
It feels better to have my immediate extended family with us on a festive day and to just hang out with everyone!