I like everything about Christmas, bar Humbugs!


I thought I’d quickly get this Blog out of the way whilst it’s still a few days away from Christmas day.  And since this is absolutely nothing to do with “The Force Awakens” you will be glad to hear that there are no spoilers to be avoided here.

As long as I can remember I have enjoyed Christmas.  The anticipation of it, the respite from work (for most), the uplifting music and positive sentiments used in the run up.  Actually, there’s very little I dislike about the ‘season’ itself other than perhaps people putting up decorations before December has even begun and shops seemingly emptying their shelves of fireworks in the middle of November and replacing them with ‘must buy’ Christmas tat.

When I was young my Parents, who didn’t have a great deal of money, always seemed to find a way to over indulge us at Christmas.  I remember coming downstairs once and waiting in the kitchen for my parents to wake up (they had slept in the lounge on a fold out sofa in order to be there during the wrapping paper riot that would inevitably ensue).  In the kitchen was a small pile of presents for each of us.  I think I got something like a pair of pyjamas, an alarm clock and maybe some slippers (or something similar).  This was typical of the present haul that each of us received at that moment and I remember being very disappointed with such an unseasonably pragmatic selection of gifts.  I also remember being aware enough to know that we did not have a great deal of money but, at such a young age, I didn’t fully appreciate how or why that should then affect me.  Shortly after this our parents woke and beckoned us into the lounge where we discovered sacks and sacks of gifts for each of us.  I remember being quite relieved for having then discovered my parents cheeky ruse but I also remember carrying the guilt of my initial disappointment and for some years to come I reflected on it every so often which simply refreshed the sadness of the memory.

As an adult I have a much greater understanding of the importance of Christmas and, as much as I still enjoy it myself, I do now feel slightly cheated by the blatant commercialism of it all.  Apparently, leading up to Christmas this year I, as a shopper, have missed out on the opportunity to take part in ‘Cyber Monday’, ‘Black Friday’, ‘Mad Friday’, and ‘Panic Saturday’ to name but a few of the joyfully but aptly named experiences.

I’m not religious but I’m also not one of those people that kids themselves into thinking that sneaking into Mass for Christmas every year technically covers you as being a regular church goer.

That said, when the commercial sheen of the chemically formulated fake-snow and curtain of price-risen wrapping paper is all pulled to one side, the true spirit of Christmas can often be seen in the dim light, sitting alone on a stool in the corner.  This is not the spirit of Christmas past, present or future but is instead the true spirit of Christmas, the spirit of Charity.  Charity has, for so many years, been shouted down, ushered away and made to sit in the corner whilst the actual people that should benefit from this goodwill are instead beaten over the head with advertising that insists that they should simply get off their ‘needy’ arses and buy more crap so as to feel better.

This is something that was brought annoyingly home to me recently whilst standing at the quick serve check out at my local Tesco (groceries store, a blog about which will have to wait for another day as there are too many subjects about Tesco to cover from the ever-present Checkout Nazis to their annoyingly inattentive attendants!).  So anyway, back to that quick serve check out till and my recent shopping experience.  Having navigated the recently ‘updated’ customer menu (dementia friendly store my arse!) I was asked to input my payment method.  On choosing Debit Card the till itself declared loudly “HO-HO-HO, MERRRRRRRY CHRISTMAS!’  It actually made me mentally step backwards for a moment whilst I quickly assessed the unsettling possibility of a HO-HO-HAL9000 checkout takeover.  The fact was, I just wasn’t in the mood for it.  My shopping experience had been frustrating enough already and I was tired and to be told by my check out that I had to have a merrrrrrry Christmas left me feeling just that little bit more drained from it all.  It actually made me think at the time of people who are trying to avoid Christmas.  People who may be suffering from Depression, other mental health issues or even just people who are alone at this time of year but would rather not be.  Yes it may seem like I’m overreacting but I am mindful that some people don’t want to be constantly reminded of Christmas, don’t want to be consistently reminded that they are on their own or that others are out enjoying this time when all they want to do is avoid the selfishly oblivious crowds, avoid the bombastic advertising and everything that is telling them that ‘they’ should not be alone this Christmas.

Christmas is a time for gifts, good food, good company and good fun and, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that.  Besides, I darec’nt risk eating Bah Humbugs at this time of year through fear of them damaging my teeth.  But I also think that often there are people around us, people who are sometimes even near to us that we forget to include or whose space we forget to respect.  Some people are made to feel that they cannot afford a decent Christmas for them and their families.  Some people in fact want to be alone, some people don’t.  And in fact some just simply want the opportunity to live under a roof for a few days sheltered from the elements.

For those of you who might wish to be reminded of the true spirit of the season, as Ebenezer discovered, it’s never too late.  Perhaps there’s a neighbour who is elderly and who could do with that spare seat you have around your dinner table.  Perhaps you’ve a friend who could do with just a call to say ‘Hi’ on the day or maybe you know someone who actually wants to be left alone for whom you could raise a glass during your meal.

For those who do not want Christmas, who cannot cope with the added pressures of Christmas, who may be unwell (either physically or mentally), this can be a very stressful time.  For some, the relentless cheerful reminders that this is a time to be happy and jolly and the time to be with friends and loved ones (that they may not even have) must worsen their suffering and deepen their loneliness and depression.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you haven’t deserved your break, your food, your gifts…assuming that you’re on that twice-checked list then you have.  But just try to spare a moment to remember what Christmas is ACTUALLY supposed to be about.  Who knows…you might enjoy your Christmas all the more for it…

As always, please feel free to leave comments and, for anyone wishing to contact you can find me here ned@thewayofthesquirrelbooks.com