This Christmas just past, my sister and I vocalised some truths about our extended family that were not pleasant. They were real things that we knew and which happened to us. It made Christmas lunch a little bit uncomfortable, a bit tense. But the things we said were true and everyone knew they were true.
When we were children we didn’t say anything because kids don’t get a say much. As younger adults we still didn’t say anything because power still lay with others present and we felt obliged and constrained to keep the status quo out of respect for the unspoken myths and rules of conduct of our family. We knew that what we wanted to say would not be welcomed.
Besides which, there was plenty we enjoyed and loved about our family
Finally as fully-fledged adults in our own right, decades later, we felt like we wanted to say those things that were true, which we knew, which happened to us. We didn’t feel like we wanted to keep on hearing the same myths repeated over and again and we didn’t want to keep some other very important things left eternally unsaid just to satisfy the emotional needs of others.
So we said what we knew to be true. What everyone knew to be true.
It was a bit uncomfortable. A somewhat awkward Christmas lunch.
That’s how Australia Day feels to me. I feel a bit awkward and tense when the Aboriginal people tell confronting truths about my family. I don’t like it. But I know its true.
They’ve had enough. They can’t stomach sitting quietly listening to those same old myths any more. Sitting quietly when everyone knows different anyway. Just listening to those half-truths, so everyone else can feel better and forget about what they really did.
I don’t blame them. When you grow up you have a right to be heard. To take your place at the table. Its not as if Australia is unaware of our atrocities anyway. We should let them speak to us and acknowledge what is true. This very small respect should be granted.
Even if we have to revise our family history.
Did you see the First Dog cartoon ?
Top job, First Dog !
Yeah, so that’s why Australia Day feels like an uncomfortable family Christmas to me.