'Tis the Season

My wife is the baby of six and both of her parents passed away within a few months of each other earlier this year. On a personal level, it has been a very sad and emotionally draining year in some ways. Christmas is a joyous occasion and is a time to for new life, gathering, thanksgiving and reflection. Ours will be a melancholy one but one which will bring our large and diverse family closer, I am sure.   

A big, pine needle Christmas tree went up in the Edmund Rice Building foyer last week and it was a strong sign that the year is drawing to a close. Christmas trees are a powerful symbol of this special time of the year.  

When I was a little boy growing up in Toowoomba, there was a pine tree in our front yard. My Dad (who turns 88 in late December) would cut off a branch and pot it for a Christmas tree. Of course, it would only last a few days. But I have delightful and treasured memories of decorating it with pulled apart white cotton balls to signify snow!  

When I was about ten, the artificial tree arrived. I remained responsible for not only decoration but assembling and disassembling said tree for years to come. I don’t remember ever articulating it as a boy, but I missed the ‘real’ tree, the ritual, and the smell of the pine inside our house.  

As soon as I had my own home, I reverted to having a natural tree. I stayed small with sorry pine parts purchased through the Lions Club for years but as our children came along, we moved to importing a six-to-eight-foot pine needle giant that takes over our lounge room each year.

Respect and understanding to all who take joy in their artificial trees. You are probably doing a much better thing for the environment than I, but I love our annual tree ritual of collecting it, carrying it, getting poked in the eye by the needles, sawing off the trunk to unseal the sap so the water can get in and then the whole family decorates it together; all five of us, my wife and I and our three once little but now adult daughters.  

We have atrocious Pre School decorative treasures that have stood the test of time, glitter ropes well past their best, beautiful collection pieces gifted by family and friends and a bric-a-brac of bits procured over time that I forget each year but am always delighted to see. All come together as I play my corny Christmas Spotify playlist and we are Christmas creative artists for one of the happiest hours of the year.  

In the ensuing days prior to Christmas, on Christmas Eve and Day and those magical days of nothingness between Boxing Day and New Years, I love the smell of the pine filled room, the hum of the Boxing Day Test Match, the glow of the lights and the symbol of family. I don’t mind admitting that I shed quite a few tears by our tree; most of them silent and secret as I remember images of little people and carrots for reindeers and milk for Santa. Nowadays, they are tears of gratitude for my many blessings, and they will be this year for the loss of much-loved parents in law, John and Joyce and the sorrow of my wife, Louise.  

Pretty soon I guess our adult daughters will start leaving our home and will need to make their own decisions regarding style, size, and method of Christmas tree. They will share these decisions with whoever they share their life with. I hope they remember our trees and what happened around them. I am going to keep lugging my giant tree up the stairs and planting it in the heart of our home. I hope my kids and whoever comes into their lives keep coming back to gather around this constant and present sign of our love for them and our gratitude for the gifts that our Loving God have given us in them, our extended family, and friends.  

However you celebrate and whatever your family traditions may be, I extend my Christmas Blessings to all of the ATC family. My prayers of peace, hope and love go to you and your families as you gather in your traditions, ways, and styles. We pray for those who will be saddened by the loss of loved ones during 2023 as you gather and hope that you are comforted in the knowledge of their love for you. We pray in thanksgiving for our community that it may be continuing to be a place to belong for our students, parents and caregivers and staff and that the new year will bring new life as gifted to us by the Christ Child at Christmas and that we gather to ”Be the Change”  as Jesus, Edmund and Ambrose were to serve, learn and lead in 2024.

We look forward to concluding the year with a Christmas Liturgy and the Christmas Carnival with the boys on Friday.  

I thank ATC staff – both teaching and non-teaching – for their dedicated efforts this year. We are very fortunate to have staff of such committed people in our community. I wish the staff, on your behalf, a joyous and restful Christmas break. We look forward to the safe return all of our continuing students and wish our departing ones the very best for the journey ahead. We can’t wait to welcome all of our new students and families in Year 4, 7 and other grades.

Thank you to the Parents and Friends of Ambrose Treacy College for your generous contributions for our staff to enjoy a lovely Christmas lunch together next week, your kindness and generosity are enormously appreciated.

Celebration of Excellence and Valedictory

Thank you to all of our families who attended one or both of these significant events last week. Both were joyous demonstrations of our culture and wonderful displays of our student and staff gifts and how these are supported by parents and caregivers. Thank you to everyone who made these events possible in facilitation and for your presence. We were delighted with these events and grateful for your support.

Community Prayers

Lord, we pray for those in our community who are suffering. Be with them in this time of hardship and uncertainty. Give comfort and peace to those who have lost loved ones. May their sorrow be turned into strength, and their distress turned into peace. May our hearts remain loving and pure as we seek to always be compassionate to those around us.

God bless and have a safe, very happy and Holy Christmas.

Chris Ryan

5 Bodkin visit the Christmas Tree