Peace and goodwill – and loads of shopping

Christmas is coming, the retailers are getting fat…

Christmas means a lot of things, but as time goes by, it seems to be more a case of retail frenzy than practically anything else. Now, traditionally it’s not my favourite time of year anyway, but I always groan inwardly when the first tacky advertising push starts in August/September. It’s a kind of a nudge in the ribs: “Look, Christmas isn’t that far away; you’d better start thinking about buying all this crap we’re advertising…” And it’s always the same; everyone waits till the last minute and the shops are a nightmare throughout December.

When did Christmas become this huge marketing free-for-all anyway?! Everybody’s under this tremendous pressure to top whatever it was they got last year, to spend more and load up their credit cards to buy all this crap. What about what Christmas is supposed to be about? Or have I lost the plot somewhere along the line, and it’s supposed to be this feeding frenzy that almost drives people to either a nervous breakdown or bankruptcy – or both???

Christmas, to me, is a time to be with your nearest and dearest – and it’s only fitting that gifts should play a part in it. Let’s face it – the three kings started the whole thing with presents, and expensive ones to boot. Maybe we should blame them… But there again, I’ve turned up at home empty-handed when I’ve been skint, and the welcome has always been just as warm, the celebrations just as riotous (Ireland – any excuse to party!), and the experience just as rewarding.

For the origins of Christmas, there are many good articles on the web, and if you’re the vaguest bit interested you could have a look at:

Some interesting stuff there – even if a little bible-bashing in places! The historical development of Christmas is the part I’m interested in anyway, and it’s quite a read.

I’m not going to go on about this, because clearly it’s a tired subject and everyone has an opinion – it’s enough to start a war, considering the minimal criteria that are usually employed for such endeavours. What I will do, though, is tell you what Christmas is to ME.

Christmas is, as I said before, a time to be with your nearest and dearest – if not in body, then at least in spirit. It’s a time to celebrate the days once more lengthening after the solstice; it’s a time to prepare for the New Year and all its possibilities. It’s a time to consider your fellow man; a time of fellowship and reflection. It’s a time to unwind from the stresses under which we place ourselves in this hectic day and age, and gain perspective on our lives, but at the same time to make merry and feel alive. A time of peace and goodwill to all men, women and children. And not necessarily a time for shopping!