In the words of Noddy Holder… “Iiiiiiiit’s Christmas!!!”. Well in a few days it will be, but thanks to marketing mayhem it has been the run-up to Christmas for about a month now! I do like Christmas, I have three children so its hard not to get caught up in their excitement of it all and the impending Santa visit, but I also find it just a little exhausting, frustrating and overwhelming at times.
It seems that the shops are on steroids with their extended opening times that appear to be geared around the eve of an apocalypse rather than a day of celebration. My hubby was up and out at 7.30am this morning to do the food shop and still had to queue for over an hour to get into our normally quiet supermarket car park. Isn’t Christmas dinner just a glorified roast dinner? Why do we see this one day as the reason to eat a huge dinner, buying too much meat per family member along with extra food for leftovers in the evening as part of a buffet, we never eat this way any other time? We have eleven guests for Christmas dinner at our house, along with two dogs and I am really excited about it. I do think Christmas should be about family as it is the only time you can wedge your dining table into the living room and use garden furniture to sit on without it seeming weird.
My three children have been in a state of high excitement for about three weeks now, writing their unachievable letters to Father Christmas on the basis that “the elves can make the toys so we can put expensive things such as computers and game consoles down”. I have tactfully looked at shopping websites with them steering their interest to more affordable toys that we can buy on behalf of the man in the red suit. Then it is the yearly dilemma of how to give the presents, which ones are from us and which are from Santa. This is a subject that I think should be covered in ante-natal classes as every parent seems to do it differently. Many parents will say all of the presents are from the big man which I worry will leave us parents looking a bit mean with grandparents arriving armed with toys and that we haven’t bothered. Me and hubby tend to do half and half, we give them a big present each from us and the rest of the achievable part of their lists comes from Santa, but this leaves us quite out-of-pocket having to buy extra.
I don’t wish to come across all Scrooge about it. I love how excited the kids are about the big event. My eldest appeared in two Christmas concerts at our local church and they felt very festive, even though it does make me feel like a bit of a hypocrite every year as I say hello to the local vicar aware that I’m only his house of worship for my own means and not as one of his congregation. This feeling of guilt and awkwardness extends through his opening sermon as I uncomfortably get into my prayer position and mumble Amen at the end of his prayer. As you can probably tell I’m not really religious, I have no objections to other churchgoers as I’m sure it can provide a source of comfort to many but I feel a bit too cynical to believe in a lot of the bible stories. I understand you do not have to take a lot of the stories literally but discover the true meaning behind the lavish storylines, but it all seems a bit too far-fetched a lot of the time. I mean wasn’t Joseph a little suspicious about the whole ‘the baby is the son of God’ story that Mary gave him. Did they even know who God was back then?
The twins also had their Nativity this week and this was a very traditional affair with my son playing a shepherd and my daughter playing the part of a door… well to be more precise she was an innkeeper but had a cardboard door she stood behind amongst other door holders and shook her head when Mary and Joseph came a knocking. She had been in character for days as she is a real method actor and the day prior was mute and would only answer us when we knocked on the ‘door’ first! The nativity was lovely and the minute the children sang their first word I was a mess, trying to stifle a sob and discreetly wipe my eyes unable to speak for fear of bawling. Joseph was a little stage shy and stomped off screaming after they had settled in the stable, leaving Mary a single mother clutching her plastic baby upside down by its feet. Still, as true professionals the children brought home the message of Christmas to a standing ovation, which was actually parents standing up and elbowing each other in a bid to achieve the best photograph they could of their little star. After the children had taken their applause, a couple of young chaps were introduced by our Headteacher as local Christians. The lads then asked that ‘J-dog’ and ‘the main dude’ should not be forgotten at Christmas. It was like witnessing a scene from The Book of Mormon as they ‘got down with the kids’ to try to entice their young impressionable interest into Christianity. As I cringed at their youthful approach to bible studies, I did feel that maybe I should feel a bit guilty, they were at least celebrating the alleged reason behind Christmas when all I wanted was to gloss past that bit and talk more about Santa to my kids. Christmas is more about Father Christmas then Jesus in our house even though both are perhaps mythical beings created in some sort of storybooks.
Whether you celebrate Christmas for ‘J-dog’s’ birthday, or for the sole purpose of having ‘Father Christmas’ deliver presents to your children, it does seem that we all lose the message of Christmas sometimes. Christmas means family to me, a time that we can all spend together, buy things to please each other and try to help others. However, it also means a massive earning potential for huge corporations, a career revival for Cliff Richard and a strong possibility of piling on unwanted weight, but where there’s a Ying, there’s a Yang I suppose. Merry Christmas everyone!