Last post I referenced my lifelong love of Christmas. This one I’ll tell you why.

I love Christmas for many reasons: I have a gigantic, close-knit family whose Christmas celebrations and traditions now span four generations. My entire life (twenty-four Christmases–that is, this will be the twenty-fourth) I’ve known this season to be acknowledged in the same way, with the same people, doing and singing and eating the same things. Changes come slow and gradual. New ones arrive as the old ones, go, but it’s family, and it’s always the same love there.

I could give a detailed account of a McMahon family Christmas, and maybe one day I will, but suffice to say that those heaps of goodwill, the custom and ceremony of Christmas-as-I-know-it has been enough to make me swear up, down, and sideways that I would NEVER, never, miss out on Christmas at home.

And yet–this year I’m spending Christmas in Brisbane, Australia.

Not just Christmas away from home–Christmas as far away from home as I can be and remain on-planet.

Christmas in summer, instead of in snow. Christmas with the Southern Cross instead of the North Star. Christmas while my family is still living out Christmas Eve. The opposite of everything I associate with, everything I love about, Christmas.

Except for what makes me celebrate in the first place.

I chose to go to Australia instead of the USA for a few reasons, most of them hideous and practical (money) and several of them exciting and grand (to go to AUSTRALIA! to visit NANCY!). I am so excited to go, to relax, to explore, to have new adventures, and also I am anticipating the heartache that comes when something cherished breaks, when tradition shifts to make room for life to move forward.

But though I will be missing many things (peppermint snowmen/Uncle Paul’s sing-along/frosty weather/small nieces and nephews agog with joy/my Red Sweater/that one particular laugh that my dad and his brothers laugh that no one else, ever, can replicate or match) I know with increasing certainty that I will not miss Christmas. I will not miss the best of it.

This Christmas in Australia, I’m going to recall the Point of It All:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.”

And so every Christmas will be merry: winter, summer; surrounded, alone; familiar, alien. Because Christmas is Christmas, wherever I go.