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With the recent bushfires and drought we are facing here in Australia, I’ve found myself talking to my young children more than ever about certain privileges we often take for granted.

In particular, the luxury of fresh, clean, running water. Because of the difficulties much of our country is facing, my young children (all under the age of five) are starting to learn the value of things we use every day. I’ve found it to be such an important lesson and one they are  understanding quite quickly.

They’ve even had to adjust their daily activities. When once they could play freely outside with the hose (like most Aussie kids do growing up), it’s now been put on hold. No indulgently long showers, no letting the tap run, a new appreciation for the fresh food we have available. We’ve also taken the time to pray for our farmers, the bushfires and to pray for rain. They’re learning what it is to conserve, how to think of others, they’re learning first-hand what’s it like for people who don’t have what we do. And what an important lesson that is especially in the lead up to Christmas.

It’s made me realise how blessed we are in this country to celebrate the Christmas holiday, not just freely but also indulgently.

We walk through shopping centres and see decorations everywhere, lines to meet Santa, carols blaring out of every sound box. Our kids write their lists of gift requests. We shop, we cook lavish meals, we celebrate. The Christmas season is an absolute joy. But in all this, there is still a pang of sadness in me as I think about our persecuted brothers and sisters, some of whom will never celebrate Christmas as freely as we do.

It’s given my heart a renewed focus this Christmas season – to remind my children why we celebrate first and foremost but also what a true privilege it is to do so.

For Christians in restricted nations, Christmas can mean heightened fear and a time of hiding their faith and joy behind closed doors.

In being bound with my Christian family, I refuse to neglect the freedom I have so I’m starting a few new Christmas traditions. This year on Christmas Eve, we’ll write a letter together to someone who has been persecuted. As we get up on Christmas morning, we’ll first pray for our brothers and sisters, our family who may not get to celebrate the way we do.  As we get in our car to drive to church without fear or threat, we’ll thank God for the gift of Jesus and the message of Christmas – a hope that transcends culture, distance and time.

Bianca Serratore