A Christian’s Christmas

by Julia Tulloh , December 20, 20123 Comments

Being a Christian doesn’t exactly earn you cool points in the workplace – especially around Christmas. If a colleague asks, ‘What are you doing over the break?’ responding enthusiastically with something like ‘CELEBRATING THE BIRTH OF MY LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST!’ can result in the loss of invitations to Friday night drinks at best. Of course, there are far more interesting FAQs to be asked, like ‘can you be a feminist and a Christian?’ or ‘have you had stigmata?’. But the Christmas question can be a little more complicated – despite having a simple answer – ‘cause it’s the question to which no-one actually expects a religious response.

This is of course because while many people celebrate Christmas, most traditions around Christmas are not about mangers, frankincense, or three wise guys – even for Christians. My schedule for December 25th contains many activities that are probably undertaken by about half of my secularist friends: I open presents; I eat chicken stuffing; I get chocolate coins, undies and socks in my Santa stocking. I avoid looking at my neighbour’s ‘Santa’s Workshop’ light and sound extravaganza in order to prevent epilepsy.

Despite the fact that Christmas is a religious holiday, many people are surprised when I tell them I’m going to church Christmas morning. And that I’ll play drums in the church band. And letter-box drop invitations to the church carol services, and laugh at the Sunday School rendition of Jesus’ birth (I never get to be in the rendition: the closest I got one year was being awarded the part of ‘the tomb’ for an Easter service – yes, I performed as a stone cavity). Friends have explained that they’re surprised because they don’t expect me to be a Christian: apparently I don’t look like one (not sure what a ‘Christian’ looks like, but I’m guessing it involves socks under Reef sandals) nor seem like one because I’m not like Mitt Romney. Mostly I think my mates haven’t met many Christians before or are only familiar with the fundamentalists who make the media, and so don’t know what to expect.

But being a Christian at Christmas means more than overdosing on the left-over communion bread and wine after church. What I hope to achieve each Christmas is a time of reflection (and celebration) about what it actually means to believe in a God who is good and loves us all. Because the significance of Jesus’ birth for Christians is not just that Jesus was some dude, but that he was God’s son and came to die for everyone, so we could be put right with God. So in thankful response to this, I ask: how can I be more loving, kind, and generous? How can I better care for people – particularly people who don’t seem to deserve it, or who are hard to even like? How can I share what I believe with others, in a respectful and caring way? I wish I thought more carefully about these questions 365 days a year. So thankfully, I have a giant pine tree in my living room at the moment which, although it’s from a pagan tradition, reminds me that now, the day on which Christians remember when Jesus was born, is a good time to truly consider what my actual purpose is as human being. In addition to running around in my brand spankin’ new jocks.

Julia Tulloh was a 2012 Killings columnist and works as freelance writer.

  • Patrick Allington

    Thanks for this column, Julia. My Dad was a minister (of religion, that is) once upon a time. One of my favourite childhood memories is eyeballing him as he gave the Christmas Day sermon, pointing repeatedly at my watch and yawning. Nowadays, it’d probably be labelled workplace harassment. And quite right too.
    If the KYD mob don’t mind a link to other parts, my somewhat different take on Christmas is over at The Melbourne Review:

9004993292_3d8f026110_z (1)

Samantha Forge

Apples and Oranges: The false economy of the parallel importation debate

The government’s recent decision to support the removal of parallel importation restrictions (PIR) on books shows that it is determined to treat Australian books like oranges. This stance makes it clear that the government sees no particular cultural value in the works of Australian authors, and in the production of Australian literature. Rather, it values above all else the unit price of a book, regardless of its origin. Read more »


Nathan Smith

Letting the Essays Do The Talking: Meghan Daum’s My Misspent Youth

In the introduction to her essay collection My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum writes that as frank as her essays are, they ‘are not confessions’. The personal essay may have long defined Daum, but she is far from a ‘confessional writer’, a title she has long resisted. Read more »


Ilona Wallace

Between You & Me: The New Yorker’s Mary Norris on publishing, editing and insecurity

Mary Norris begins her chatty grammar guide and memoir, Between You & Me, by chronicling the odd jobs she held before she began working at the New Yorker in 1978. She delivered milk – awkwardly calling ‘Milkwoman!’ when she left bottles at each stop – and crashed the dairy truck. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Rebecca Varcoe

In defence of professional cheerleading

My name is Rebecca and I’m a 26-year-old woman with a shameful secret, for which I refuse to be ashamed any longer. Today I want to confess my obsession and one true love, the subject of many rants and late-night tweeting frenzies: Cheerleading. American, All-Star Cheerleading. Read more »


Adam Rivett

Tell Me, Princess: The evolution of Disney’s princess songs

Two years ago today, Disney’s Frozen was unleashed upon the world. As far as rapacious corporate behemoths go, it’s one of the more appealing, and remains surprisingly resilient to repeat screenings. But at the heart of its achievement sits one indisputable melodic and cultural phenomenon: ‘Let It Go’. Read more »


James Tierney

Bodily Limits: An interview with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film Suspiria suffered from a critical eclipse and a variety of censored prints, and was largely cherished in its original form by aficionados of the field. A reassessment has been building, something sure to be aided by the forthcoming publication of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ perceptive and elegantly written monograph. Read more »

je tu il elle 2

Eloise Ross

Existence as Minimalism: Remembering Chantal Akerman

Images of a young woman, emptying her small flat of furniture, blocking the window and sitting in the dark, still. Sitting on a mattress in a bare room, furiously writing letters with a pencil and watching the snow through the window. Meeting with a past lover and reuniting on-screen. I think about Chantal Akerman’s films more often than I can say. Read more »


Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Alexis Drevikovsky

Have You Ever Felt Like This: Going Round the Twist again

Working from home one day, I took my lunchbreak away from my laptop and flicked idly through the TV channels, hoping for a midday movie with Reese Witherspoon or, even better, an old episode of Cheers. What I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I excitedly texted my mate Alison: Round the Twist is on ABC3! Read more »


Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »


Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »

kiss copy

Jane Howard

Great Aspirations: In the shadow of Patrick White

The text of The Aspirations of Daise Morrow is lifted directly from Patrick White’s short story ‘Down at the Dump’. It’s a wonderful thing to hear White’s judicious use of language; to understand the eyes through which he saw Australia; and to see an entire world of his creation brought to life in the theatre. Read more »