How do you feel about Christmas?
Are you one of those who are a bit ‘bah humbug’ dreading the crowds, the expense, the indigestion, the stress and even the in-laws? You’re fed up with hearing that same old Christmas song over and over again and as for the TV – you think it’s just a load of cheesy festive repeats. You really dread Christmas and you’re glad when it’s all over, breathing a sigh of relief that there’s another 363 days until you have to do it all again.
Or are you one of those people that love, love, love Christmas – you’re the first one in your street to deck your house with lights and decorations – squeezing in just one more new trimming each year. You embrace the season for all your worth – hoping for snow, relishing in the Christmas shopping, diving into the wrapping paper as you produce presents that are masterpieces of artwork. You can’t wait for the big day, the Christmas songs, the turkey plus all the trimmings and getting everyone together to celebrate.
Do you recognise yourself in either of the above? Or perhaps, like me, you’re a little bit in the middle?
As with all children, I loved Christmas so much when I was young. I have a vivid memory of doing my best to stay awake to see Santa, the reindeer and his sleigh landing outside my bedroom window (there was a garage roof just outside and I worked out that was exactly where he was going to land the sleigh!) I’d excitedly gasp on Christmas morning when I found a stocking with little presents in at the foot of my bed. I loved all the tiny little knickknacks that my mum had lovingly individually wrapped– I embraced the chocolate selection box as my breakfast and spent hours trying to coax all the ball bearings into the centre of that little puzzle.
More joys awaited underneath the tree, where the ‘big’ present could be found – I hoped so hard for the thing that I’d most wished for and then spent a good while playing with the box that it had come in!
There was also the excitement of decorating up the house and putting up the Christmas tree – in those days multicoloured foil chains adorned the ceiling and the lights on the Christmas tree had to be tightened and tried beforehand – if one bulb blew, they all went out, which would lead to a frantic search for a replacement bulb (this would be either a) illusive or b) the wrong colour!) The Christmas tree was unashamedly silver tinsel and the ornaments were glass and very fragile, so an exclusion zone was established around the finished specimen.
I loved singing Christmas carols, watching ‘The Sound of Music’ for the umpteenth time and being allowed a tiny sip of port and lemon.
My love of Christmas remained with me as I crept into my 20s, where I still looked forward to the festive period, but maybe more for the parties, dressing up and boozy dancing.
As I’ve grown older, I have to admit that my love of Christmas has wavered a little – I now appreciate the stresses of shopping – the tussle in the shops to secure that turkey that is just the right size, or securing the last bag of brussel sprouts. I realise that it can be a financial strain too, with the pennies seeming to go less and less far each year. Maybe hearing that old Christmas song for the 30th odd year in a row can wear a little thin.
The one thing that is guaranteed to frustrate me about Christmas is that its arrival seems to grow earlier and earlier each year. Christmas cards can be seen appearing in the shops in August and by September the festive fare is in full swing. Folks start putting up decorations in November and Christmas songs are chiming out before even December has arrived. Personally, I want to wait until nearer the time before I am surrounded by bon noel – this isn’t because I’m being miserable (although you could argue otherwise!) but because I want to keep Christmas special and confined to that particular time of year ie late December. Unfortunately, my angst over this leads me to ‘tune out’ Christmas and then before I realise it, the big day has arrived and I remark, “it doesn’t feel that Christmasey this year!”
I hasten to add though that I don’t dismiss Christmas and all its magic. It is a very special time of year – when anything can happen – because it’s Christmas! It’s when we can let our hair down, forget the diet and wear crazy jumpers and hats! Catch up with folks that we only hear from on a Christmas card and think back to Christmases past and the good times we shared. It’s a time to count our blessings and remember those who are less fortunate and extend a little Christmas spirit to one and all.
As for Father Christmas aka Santa Claus – well even if you’re a little too old to believe in him, don’t dismiss the concept totally. I think that he is the personification of all the love, kindness, charity, generosity and thoughtfulness that we extend to each other over the holidays.
Ultimately, Christmas is personal to us all and we enjoy it (or not) for our own reasons and in our own ways. But, whatever you think about the yuletide period, I hope you will have a wonderful time – Merry Christmas!