We cook and we wrap and we decorate and we plan. We think of the people and the allocate gifts and thoughts and love and expressions. We countdown and we wait and then it’s here, Christmas happens for a full day and it’s a culmination of love and finances and food and honesty.
But there is an empty seat.
And the seat is empty and it might have other people sitting in it, but the seat is empty. Because the person who should be in it isn’t there.
A gap of dissension or a gap of life or a stubborn judgement, but the seat is empty.
There are days I feel it more than others.
This morning I saw that another little boy has gone, just disappeared.
Sam went missing from his WA home yesterday.
This little one, William, has been missing for weeks:
These little ones should be search and destroy missions, making decorations and rattling presents and opening advent calendars and sitting on Santa’s lap and being dragged to family lunches and Carols by Candlelight. But they’re just gone. Missing.
Then there’s the more permanent type of missing.
My mum loved Christmas. That’s all there is to say, because that’s what it was: she just loved it. And it’s really been this year, eleven years after she died, that I’ve started to be able to do things like put lights on the house and not tear up at the Christmas tree. The ornaments used to be what undid me. The Christmas after she died, we tried to put the tree up and we found the ornaments packed carefully into their Christmas tub.
She didn’t plan to miss Christmas.
She didn’t plan to not help put the tree up.
There was nothing in the way the ornaments were so carefully packed that hinted that she knew she wouldn’t be here for it.
What I’m trying to say is this: you have no way of knowing, really, when your last anything is.
So let me implore you: deck the fuck out of those halls, if that is what makes you happy. Put lights on your house. They might help guide someone home. Light a candle, set a place at the table. Buy them a present and store their smile in your heart of hearts of hearts of hearts. Make treasure. Realise value.
Because it can change in a heartbeat.
My favourite Christmas carol is O Holy Night. It’s a carol that sings of relief and value and total, utter thankfulness. Religious or not, you can feel the desperate need for acknowledgement and relief in the lyrics.
I’m not intending to write a downer of a post, but something about these kids going missing has really made me think. We often sit in privilege and riches and safety, and just forget that there are people so desperately worse off than ourselves. Life is not easy, and for every moment you think it is hard there is someone else experiencing a far harder slice than you could imagine.
If you see these little boys, or know anything that could help them be home for Christmas, please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.