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With no more school lunches to be packed, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas


School’s out. The cicadas are chirping. And soon people will be wearing Christmas decorations on their ears, or their shirts. Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year, says Rebecca Levingston

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Farewell school lunches.

There are some end of year markers that give adults endorphins we didn’t anticipate in our youth.

Putting the school lunchbox away at the end of term four is one those annual exhalations that frankly deserves more attention. Find me a family with school-aged children and you will find someone who’s cheering the break from daily sandwich dilemma.

The pressure to place neatly divided, nutritionally acceptable school snacks together will grind down the most enthusiastic lunch-boxer. Fruit alone can break a parent.

The upside to the strawberry glut earlier this year was ready-made mouthfuls of health. Kiwi fruit in cooler months are a treat. But then it gets too hot. And the kiwis get slimy.

Apples roll home half eaten. Bananas get rejected for being brown. Let me tell you, bruised is how the family lunch maker feels after a year of trying to fill a box with food for the school day. It’s relentless yet oh, so rewarding when you get an empty lunch box back.

Here are a few of my other under-appreciated end of year signals…

Cicadas. The annual alarm clock that you never realise is sounding until you pause standing in your backyard and realise there’s a constant zing in the air. Bless those exoskeletons for a spectacular ability to quite literally remove the shackles of the year and start anew. I’m jealous.

Cricket on the radio. A test with long slow commentary can unwind the mind. Give me pauses, obscure cricket facts and occasional moments of furious excitement. Background crowd sound should be indistinguishable from static at times.

Parliament rises. Couldn’t have come soon enough. Stop yelling at each other in Canberra. Please go home and think about how to have a more productive 2022. And for goodness sake, don’t campaign over Christmas. Is it too late to put that on a wishlist?

Anyone who wears festive earrings. Thank you for turning tiny pine trees into ear studs. It’s no coincidence that baubles are also the correct shape to dangle from human ears. And to the people who wear gingerbread-man brooches, I salute you. Bonus joy if you have any accessory that flashes and you work in retail.

Santas who stay in costume when driving. Always shockingly delightful. You can be stuck in traffic swearing until you see Santa behind the wheel and suddenly everyone feels a bit jolly. Special commendation for people who stick those reindeer antlers on each side of the car. Subtle, but I see you and I appreciate you.

Nurses who wear festive uniforms. This week I met Joe who’s looking after my Grandmother in hospital. He was wearing a shirt featuring native Australian animals wearing tiny little Christmas hats. The wombats were dancing. He was kind to my Grandma. I’m grateful for the Joes in hospital wards all over Queensland.

Nurses don’t get a break. Lots of us do. Find your end-of-year signal and be kind to those who carry on making lunches. Even on Christmas Day.

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