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MCG - SCG Yatra, Day 44

Moss Vale - Bowral - Mittagong - Yerrinbool - (Bargo)

As previously noted, Shekhar and I spent the Christmas Day resting the whole day at Moss Vale. Before I go into the walk from Moss Vale to Yerrinbool, I would like to take liberty to reflect on the Christmas celebrations. According to a recent report by the Salvation Army, Australians spent $63.9 billion on pre-Christmas shopping that is from 14 November to 24 December this year. For a country of less than 26 million population, this equates to around $2,450 spending per man, woman, and child in the country. This is the money that Australians do not have. Most, if not all, is paid by credit cards. Consequently, the country is getting deeper into debt. The same report also highlights that around 8% of those surveyed by an agency resented the festive season because they couldn’t afford to buy presents, clothes or go on a holiday. In light of these figures, you have to ask yourself, “Is this, what Christmas is all about? Or has the true spirit of Christmas been lost over the years because of vested interests of business houses and large corporations. Christmas unfortunately has become a commercial festival. Its success is measured by the amount of money spent on Christmas shopping. The higher the spending the more successful it is rated. The same measure is applied across most of the western world.

Apart from looking at Christmas through a commercial prism, the true spirit of Christmas is also lost at the social level. When somebody brings Christmas present(s) for your children, the level of their love is measured by the estimated cost of the presents. The more expensive the present someone brings, the more they are supposed to love you and your children. No matter how much the poor auntie loves your child, just because she can’t afford to buy your child big or expensive birthday or Christmas presents, your child thinks this auntie doesn’t love him/her as much as someone else who can afford. It would be wrong to assume that it is the child’s fault, or it is result of peer pressure. No, it is not. This is our fault. This is how we as parents have conditioned our children today. Besides, why do we call the presents Christmas presents? The whole idea of Christmas has been hijacked by commercial interests.

My understanding of the true spirit of Christmas was to help the needy, reach out to the poor, visit someone at the hospital or nursing home, make up with someone you had fallen out, remove your ego and become humble again. Step back from the rat race and embrace the present for what it is, and not what it should be. Accept family, friends, and all others for what they are. The true spirit of Christmas was supposed to be an annual reminder to reset your life, reflect upon your actions of the past 12 months and take corrective measures to bring your life in line with the true spirit of Christmas, not just once a year but throughout the year.

Now back to the yatra. It was going to be a hot day today. After a good night sleep, Shekhar and I got ready and started the actual walk at 6:00 AM. We walked through Bowral and reached Mittagong before we had our first break at McDonald’s. After a cuppa, we continued the walk. Between Mittagong and Yerrinbool, a car pulled over, where Shekhar had parked the van, clear of the hwy to make a donation. The one of the male occupants handed $50 to Shekhar and said, “We really appreciate what you guys are doing. We also know that the McGrath Foundation genuinely helps breast cancer patients. We don’t want any receipt, it’s all good.” And they drove off. We wrote out a receipt for the amount received in the name of anonymous. Thank you so much for your support guys, you are true champions, fellows.

We walked on the old Hume hwy. It was way past lunch time by the time we reached Yerrinbool. We parked outside the railway station under a shady tree. It was a hot day, so I kept drinking a lot of water but now we were hungry. We finished the leftovers rice, beans curry, salads and mixed nuts. I had a power nap. Opposite the station, there was a corner shop and we wanted to get some coffee. But a sign in the window suggested that it was no longer a shop open to the public but a private residence.

We were looking for a place to stay the night, but due to Christmas holiday period, could not find anything. We tried calling Mittagong and a few other places, but nothing was available at all. Every place was fully booked out for the next couple of weeks. We decided to drive to Bargo, a small town on the way to Picton. There was a caravan park and we wanted to stay two nights. Noel Chapman the park manager, was so kind that he charged us for one day only. He said, “Because you guys are walking for a charity, not any charity but for the McGrath Foundation, the second night you stay would be free.” We appreciated his kindness Noel, thank you so much for your support. A big thank you!

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