together

My favourite Christmas tradition in Australia

The sea of candle lights rise and fall, again and again, like the waves on the ocean; occasionally punctuated by us singing Hallelujah,  Hallelujah with each lift of our candles. We don’t know the rest of the words, no one cares. Handel’s Messiah is only meant for the choir and to help us create the dance of lights! Our flickering candles show that community joined together can dance so much more beautifully together than alone. 

An integral part of Christmas celebrations in Australia is Carols by Candlelight, held outdoors, as Christmas is in the summer down-under. These are held by local councils, communities and churches in local parks and in the city it is a televised event. The show consists of a variety of singers,  celebrities and choirs singing old fashioned Christmas song with a visit from Santa and Celebrities like the Wiggles (dancing and singing quartet). For a person with Parkinson’s to consider going,  it’s quite the undertaking.

For the uninitiated – let me explain.  Firstly, for me, getting into town takes about 45 mins plus a 10 minute walk at each end. Thankfully most days I am up for this but if you are not, you need to have a disabled car parking official permit (each country has their owns systems). 

Next challenge is because it is a free event you have to sit in your reserved spot on the grass from 1 or 2pm onward, until 7pm when the show time starts. Everyone brings a blanket and picnic basket and you can buy goodie packs that include the candles, song books and snacks and the proceeds go to the Salvation Army charity for the homeless.

Still still is tough, thankfully you can dance to the pre show entertainment and we (friends/ family members) take turns going for walks, visiting the facilities which include disabled toilets preshow. Despite doing lots of pilates, a helping hand to get up and down from the ground is good and we use low beach chairs for back support.

It is a long day for someone with PD, so I am prepared and willing to take a little siesta in the park if needed – but s eriously it is buzzing with noise. We talk, we play games, we meet our picnic rug neighbours.  This is a tradition from my childhood and my our children love it too and are glad it hasn’t been  cancelled, but as luck would have it I got COVID and we couldn’t attend this year. The unexpected yet again.  

The songs bring us back to the meaning a Christmas:The story of an unexpected baby, without a hospital bed, with unexpected visitors, and an unexpected life and death. We all face an unexpected future but the joy of music and community again brings me joy. 

Research has shown that those who are more active in community do better with Parkinson’s so make sure you renew or find new new traditions to get involved in community this Christmas. I hope you can join your community for Christmas again this year in whatever shape or form that might be.  Remember the sea of candles dancing. Join in the dance of lights because in community joined together can dance so much more beautifully together than alone.