In yet another apology for a week of inactivity on this blog, I can only say that work has been hugely busy as I got yet another publication off to the printers in time for the Christmas closure. It was very frustrating to still have to keep up the energy and work to meet a print-deadline while many others I knew, and surely throughout Australia, were winding-down their workloads and tidying their desks in preparation for the Christmas holidays.
What added to the frustration is that the organisation I work for, like so many others, is chronically deadline-challenged, and I had to keep up the slog while last-minute things got added, and space just had to be made for new material.
So, there was little spare time for blogging, despite there being lots of things to blog on, such as the Japanese whaling fleet hitting the Southern Oceans, the Bali climate change conference and Rudd's role there. Perhaps there will be time now, and whaling is definitely on my agenda again.
Now, I am truly thankful for the reprieve from hectic, deadline-driven work. I start a decent break from work till just after the New Year, and I can finally enjoy this season with a bit more cheer - particularly as I've also finished my Christmas shopping!
Amazingly, I did much of my present shopping online this year – a first time for so much shopping. We decided to buy goats, chickens, seeds and other such developmental needs on behalf of, and in lieu of presents for, our close relatives, via Oxfam Australia's website. We did buy some presents for the kids – our niece and nephews, as well as our own kids. Children don't really understand if they get a card on Christmas Day that tells them that instead of a present, you donated the money to some Aid agency working with under-privileged people in a developing country somewhere.
We still bought a few, small, less-expensive presents for our loved ones and each other – it helped that we wanted a low-key Christmas where we didn't spend so much money on stuff. Practical things that we need for the coming year seem to be the priority this year. It was also a chance to put into practice our thoughts about consumption and sustainability.
Surprisingly, I managed to fine quite a few presents online - one of which I'll blog more on after Christmas, as I don't want to spoil the surprise – but I realised that shopping online doesn't replace old-fashioned, really good customer service in a shop – especially a bookshop. Even if you call them on the phone.
So here is a hearty cheers to the two sales assistants who were so helpful to me in two separate bookstores – just across the road from each other in Carlton (some of you will know where that means!) – and who made only my second Christmas shopping foray last night such a joy! You had obviously kept your cool and manners in Christmas retail hell. Thank you.
I have a love-hate relationship with the retail hell that is Christmas. I hate the crowds, the indecision, the pressure to find the right present, and the costs, but sometimes being out and about helps get me into the spirit. This year, about the only thing I really miss is the Salvation Army brass band busking in front of the GPO – on the corner of Elizabeth St and the Bourke St Mall. I just haven't been into the city to shop at all! Perhaps I'll get a chance to hear them tomorrow when I head into the Victoria Market in search of a free-range turkey and chicken.
I hope your Christmas preparations are going well, and you find some time to enjoy this holiday season. I still have a fruit cake to bake, and presents to wrap, so it's not plain sailing yet, but there'll be more cheer now that work is done for now.