In New Zealand this summer, perspective is the universal gift.

Atheist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or deciding over dinner, your religion doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if Santa's coming or whether your family does presents or not.

It doesn't matter if you're preparing a roast turkey with all the trimmings, or just hanging out for next Sunday with a six pack and a packet of chips. At the very least, we will all hopefully have the chance to pause and consider our lot.

For me, the best thing about the Christmas and New Year period isn't the sun or excess. I love my Christmas treaties and I look forward to a few brews with my mates as much as anyone else.

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But Christmas, for all the stress and inevitable family squabbles, is still the closest we come to collective rest.

The US' Thanksgiving holiday serves much the same purpose, and I've always thought that despite the messed-up colonial origin there's a beautiful simplicity in a secular holiday whereby everyone is challenged to reflect.

Why not try it this Christmas? If you're doing the whole dinner thing, why not pinch an idea from the Americans and have everyone at the table take a turn to mention something for which they feel grateful? It can be as grand as peace and love, or as simple as a plate full of spuds.

I know the idea sounds gushy. It is gushy. But have some Christmas courage and embrace the gush, because 2016 has been an average year.

Aleppo still burns. The climate still warms. Terrorism, earthquakes, etc. Heroes have died. Bowie! Ali! Pronounced, hateful political divisions threaten the society of our closest friends.

But tell me, through the madness, are there many places on Earth you'd truly, rather be?

Perspective is richer than any Christmas pudding. It's the gift for all the family. And with that gift I'm surer than ever this Christmas that, mate, we don't know how lucky we are.