Quote..“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?”
― Bob Hope
Prior to last Christmas I had belonged to the bah humbug school of thought about Christmas.
Having had to work at Christmas for years, I abhorred the commercialisation and pressures around Christmas to spend, spend, spend, often go into debt and at the same time be some sort of domestic goddess cooking a sit down, gourmet meal for 15 people and artistically draping the house with glittering baubles and lights but at the same time avoid it looking tacky!
I used to see the women at work stressing over the Christmas dunner and think “ for goodness sake, have a buffet!”
On top of all that we are told that REAL women, find the time to glam up and pamper themselves so they look their utmost glowing best for all those Christmas parties and invitations that come flooding through the door…..which of course they are never to exhausted or even hung over to enjoy!
This I observed was a woman thing , because most of the men I know, just ignore christmas till around 22nd December.
Then they might half heartedly buy a present ( note the singular) for somebody they love.
Meanwhile they just turn up in their normal grubby work clothes at the office party. Get slightly drunk and then try to snog whoever they have secretly fancied the rest of the year.
Then they get up on Christmas morning and Father Christmas has magically left presents for everybody and cooked the dinner!
However, as people who regularly read my blog will know, last Christmas, my darling husband surprised me with a last minute trip to Paris, flying out Christmas eve and returning on Boxing day night (26th December).
We spent a magical 48 hours wandering around Paris like starstruck lovers. Staying in a lovely small hotel, eating lovely food and looking at the sights.
As we arrived late on Christmas Eve, my Catholic husband took me to midnight mass in Eglise de St Etienne du Mont. A church I think is the most beautiful in Paris and on whose steps Gil is collected in the film midnight in Paris.
As I stood amongst the ordinary and well heeled Parisians, some still dressed in their party clothes, I suddenly had a Christmas epiphany. …..this was what Christmas is about,
the feel good factor reminding us of peace on earth good will to all men.
Of course there has always been a mid winter festival since before Christianity. Pagans, Romans and middle eastern cultures, had festivals around the time of the winter solstice. The Jewish faith has Hanukkah and Hindus have Diwali, the festival of lights.
I asked my non Christian colleagues if they did anything at Christmas and discovered that they all embrace Christmas. . Enjoying the holiday having a special meal, seeing family and buying their children presents. Most had a Christmas tree, sent cards and left a carrot and a mince pie for Father Christmas and his reindeer. .
It makes sense to have a feast and a festival to brighten up the darkest days of winter and to stock up on the last remnants of the harvest to keep us going through the cold dark days of January and February.
My theory is that really we are meant to be hibernating. …. (As I can never get up on winter mornings). ….We are physiologically programmed to stay in a nice warm bed for a couple of months, only getting up for the odd potato and the toilet. . We are only meant to emerge, when we can be woken by the light in the mornings.
When I finally don’t have to go to work anymore. (soon, I hope!) This is what I will do. Let my body be guided by the seasons and the sun. . ..but I digress.
I often feel sorry for our cousins in the southern hemisphere because their Christmas is in summer and they have no midwinter festival to brighten their lives.
So, after years of ignoring Christmas . Not sending cards, (except to a very few special people) minimal christmas tree, not buying presents, ( except for children) not joining in and being irritated by fragrant Nigella and other celebrity chefs cavorting about every night on TV with THEIR version of how to cook a turkey ( really how many ways can you do it!) …
This year I have found myself enjoying .all the Christmas lights from the houses, illuminating the dark winter streets. I find myself singing along to the Christmas songs on the radio at work and generally being cheery. I am actually considering wearing a pair of fun antlers! AND I have bought presents and sent cards.
Of course , this year Michael and I have a great deal to celebrate. Despite a couple of dashes to the hospital with suspected infections and deep vein thrombosis, he gains strength every day, he is less fatigued and I can see the gradual improvement. Plus his hair is quickly growing back. I have returned to work and life is slowly returning to normal.
So I will leave you with an amusing quote from Dave Berry
― Dave Barry
Peace joy and love to everyone. Have a happy, merry Christmas.
…and as a PS to this blog, today I exchanged contracts on my house, after 35 years and five sales that fell through, I have finally sold it!
and I year ago I was talking about trifle