There is currently a memorial called 'A seat to Savour' in Perth's cultural centre in tribute to those in Western Australia who have died in road accidents in the last year. Who will not make it to Christmas lunch. One hundred and fifty four seats surround a long table at its centre. These seats represent the people who have died this year. Western Australia has the worst fatality rate of all Australian states. I walk past this table everyday. It is guarded by security guards 24 hours a day… To stop people taking chairs, plates, forks or knives. A hard task I imagine at midnight on a Friday or Saturday night. I have chatted to more than one of the guards. They find it a hard thing to watch but it will be there 24 hours a day until christmas to serve as a memorial and a reminder to drive safely.
As a Scottish person, used to cold, snow, frost, ice and darkness, it very much does not feel like Christmas. Christmas for me is being wrapped up in a big winter's jacket, many layers, gloves, hat and scarf, your breath appearing in front of you as you walk through Princes St Gardens and browse the German market; perhaps ride the big wheel or go ice skating. To meet your friends or family at the dome and have a club sandwich and look at the Christmas lights. To have to walk to the end of your street to get the bus into town because you can't get the car out of the drive due to a foot of snow! That keeps falling every time you clear it! For it to be warmer inside than it is outside! To smell the warming scent of mulled wine on a cold winter's eve. To have Christmas Eve Eve celebrations. To visit family friends on Christmas Eve. It is one of the only times of the year I will make it to a church… Stopped by a woman in the street the other day, she asked what christmas means to me. I didn't even have to think about this. I wrote snow and family on her board :-). What does Christmas mean to you?
It took until today for the symbolism of this memorial to fully sink in. To realise that many people around the world and in other circumstances will not make it to Christmas lunch. Many who i'm sure would be more excited to see it than me. It has served as a humbling reminder that two family members will not be sitting at any Christmas table. That Christmas this year for some is going to be very hard… For other family members they will be sitting at a different, new table for the first time! Starting a new christmas story. I have been genuinely touched at the offers of christmas tables I have had. Who is sitting at your table this year…?