It’s come around again.

Somehow, every year, the media dredge up new perspectives at Christmas, incurring my admiration because  I confess freely I cannot.  Christmas confounds me.  Miraculous survivals, acts of goodness and extraordinary achievements are being reported on every side.  Why do I miss them all?  Why do I not know where every royal person is spending their festive season – and why do I not care?

Frankly, I don’t know why any aspect of Christmas should be news.  After all, it begins unfailingly around 1st November, and swoops in like a great dark cloud, gushing forth episode after episode of trauma to finally collapse like a half-set jelly on December 25th.  Equally routinely, we are to be found sweeping up its victims in the cold dawn of Boxing Day, amidst the pitiful groans of the suffering, a secondary feast of medicaments and salves, and ladles brimming with schadenfreude.

So what’s new?

With my Bah-Humbug specs planted firmly on my nose, I am going to issue you with an invitation you will rarely get:  how do you really feel about Christmas?   I am going to ask you for an extraordinary degree of honesty; for truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Where are you reading this?

Are you at the airport?  Have you been there for more than five hours because your plane is late,  your cabin crew are on strike, or there is a bomb scare?

Are you on the motorway?  Have you been stuck in traffic for more than five hours, missing your plane because it was the only one today that departed on time?

Honestly, what is it like being marooned in that changing cubicle at John Lewis, convinced that if you try to step outside the mob will kill you?

On a register of one to ten, how joyful do you feel about spending eight hours of Monday in the close company of Uncle Freddy after he has stuffed himself to the gills with turkey and drunk enough whisky to sink the Nimitz?  Do you really want to hear that song again?

How do you describe the complexity of your feelings, watching the educational toy which cost you a hundred pounds (give or take a penny) being systematically ignored by its recipients in favour of the cardboard box in which it arrived?

“He’ll grow into it.” His mother assures you.

Is there a moment more memorable than that in which ‘our youngest’ falls on top of the laptop you bought for ‘our eldest’?  It will stay with you, will that crunching sound – a memory to carry to your grave.  The family rows, the burnt mince pies, the drinks you never normally touch and certainly shouldn’t, the vomiting dogs and the panicking cats – with so much living to pack into twenty-four hours; no wonder Christmas’s popularity endures.  We humans are naturally masochistic, after all.

Cynical?  Me?  Hah!  I confess it.  I love watching others engorge themselves in Bacchanalian feasting, while I consume my allowance of boiled fowl and steamed broccoli, and I may even have a sip of wine or two, whether or not I am forced to go and lie down afterwards.   While the young whirl and screech about me, I will take my ease watching Julie Andrews doing her own whirling and screeching on top of that damned hill and I won’t be envious – no, I will not!

I suspect though, like most of you, I will be glad when the day is over, and I am able to wash up, wipe up, clear up, sober up, and go exhausted to my bed (or whatever appalling equivalent has been reserved for me).

All right, I will acknowledge that it is not all doom and gloom, this Christmas thing.  There are experiences not to be missed, pleasures to be found.  Yet how fresh and crisp the dawn of the twenty-sixth, the promise of another year!  How sweetly the robin, his voice no longer drowned by one hundred and forty decibels of Black Sabbath, sings!  And how freely the EBayers bid for that educational toy, in the year’s only real sale!

Happy Christmas, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

30 Comments

  1. Ohh Fred, so well said. I try and pretend it isn’t happening, which fails because it is bl**dy everywhere! I hang on to the times with loved ones and that is it for me. Any meaning it once had has been drowned out in commercial din. We are going away next week with one of Georgie’s daughters and granddaughter and a few months ago when she was looking at flights abroad and ‘all in’ packages I spoke up (gently, because I am the newbie in this family). We are now going to tuck away in a little converted barn in Shropshire, next to a lake. We’re taking Monopoly, puzzles, boots, hats and scarves. It’s about being together, that’s all that matters. That time is a priceless gift. I don’t drink much at all, I don’t like it and I don’t like what it does to people when they do. I will get through the next few days with as much grace as possible….thinking loving thoughts Ho ho ho. So my lovely, it’s time to put our tin hats on and dive into a trench…it will be over before we know it. Many hugs and much love flowing to you and your loved ones, always. xXx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes Frederick, you are right on so many fronts about this ‘season’.
    The only good thing I can see about it is that all our kids have holidays and we can get together with them at various times – we all live at quite some distances from each other.
    It takes some organisation to get eight kids & 11 grandkids together, so we do the most travelling. We break it into two trips – one to however many of my 5 sons & 7 grandkids are available in southern Queensland, and another to visit hubby’s 3 kids & their families in NSW. We are at one of my sons’ today & 2 others of them made it to spend a few hours together.
    Otherwise, I hate the hype, the commercialism, the soppy sentimentality of the whole thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And the same to you, Charly. It’s just one day a year, my friend. On the inside, really, I’m always alone, and I don’t truly enjoy many people’s company, but I’ve a feeling I’d enjoy yours. So – wish you were here. Happy Christmas!

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  3. As one who doesn’t celebrate, you’ve made me feel better about missing what seems to be the biggest holiday of the year! At this point in my life, all holidays feel stressful, and I much prefer the quiet and normal pace of a regular day.

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    1. Viewing from the outside, I get the impression that Jewish holidays have much more gravitas, and remind their celebrants of the true historical or religious reason for the observance. Christmas, I fear, has very little ‘Mass’ about it, and a lot more to do with Saturnalia than a sacred occasion. So no, I don’t like it either. I especially dislike the incessant pressure to spend, spend, spend – as though the sincerity of one’s feelings are measured by the worth of the gift.

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      1. It’s true that Jewish holidays are tied to stories about our history, but there is also frivolity involved in many of them—and ALWAYS food! Most of the time the focus is on the food, in fact. 🙂 But there is no pressure to buy, buy, buy—though most families in the US do get children gifts for each night of Hanukkah. It’s just less hyped in public media than Christmas.

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  4. Brilliant! How did you understand exactly how I was feeling?
    But I will add one thing to your mix of expressed feelings. Loneliness. Nobody is home, everything is closed, and all there is to listen to is the same soppy songs we ‘re subjected to every year at this time. A wise woman I knew said,
    “We all think that everyone is having more fun than we are!”

    Normalcy will be much appreciated again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And normal service will be resumed in a couple of days. I am one of the loneliest people I know, because I enjoy solitude, but I think I am expressing the view of most people. I am an atheist, yet even I can see that Christmas has lost its religious heart.

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      1. In the early 1970s I lived in Baltimore, Maryland where a woman named Madelaine Murrey O’Hare spoke openly about her atheism. She was a guest on many TV talk shows, and was called “The Most Hated Woman in America.” Suddenly one day she disappeared and was never heard from again. Presumably murdered. Because of the terrible hatred and close-mindedness in our world I would never state my views about religion…

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        1. I’ve never concealed my humanist views, although perhaps I avoid making a blog post subject out of them. Religion always stirs the pot of argument – I guess it’s important to allow others the privacy of their beliefs; after all, we’re not here to hurt people.

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  5. My enjoyment of Christmas is in a direct relationship to how early I get things done. If I finish my prep early, I enjoy it more. If I’m scrambling at the end, I don’t. Luckily I finished early this year. AND I don’t have to travel anywhere. So my cynicism is on low this year. Phew.

    Enjoyed reading your words as always. Merry Christmas to you, Fred!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m late in reading this post, mostly because of being caught up in the gaiety and hustle-bustle of the holiday. I think I told you last year, I am a Christmas sap. This is my favorite time of year and this year was especially beautiful.

    Although I can’t say it is entirely the holiday that inspires my mood. I have always been a glass half full person. The holiday just makes it brim over 🙂

    Wishing you all the best for the coming New Year, Frederick!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s well over 22 years i gave up celebrating Christmas, sending cards, giving gifts, traveling, etc. Let other people do it, and seldom may even by compromise attend some one else party, but me getting all excited about it, and want to do anything where I got to lift a finger? Nah, don’t bother with that nonsense anymore! 🙂

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    1. I can still find something genuine in it, I think. Disregarding all the hype, the sentimentalist drama and rampant commercialism, there is yet a raising of the human spirit, even if only in the effort to meet and renew acquaintance, maybe to test the old grudges and clear some air? I hope your New Year will be a great and a brave one. Thank you for commenting – I exist upon comments!

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      1. If you ask me I do not hold anything against Christmas except the rampant commercialism, and the high expectations from people to the fairy tale one night a year to be magic, every night should be magic, attitude, it’s the main key ingredient of the recipe, it’s just too much to expect others may share your feelings, one way or the other one, higher expectations, together with the great effort you spend, are the recipe for disappointment, and the feelings all that spend money, time, and effort just went to waste, and fall on careless people, too busy with their own life to appreciate your efforts.
        Now, if you do not expect something in return, that will be different, but the fact it is most people do.
        Growing old should be a learning lesson to us all, it took a while but I learnt mine. and here are some guidelines.
        As Christmas approaches, make sure you know exactly what are you gone to do, do not let things just go this way, or that way without you agreeing it.
        Spend time with close friends where you know what to expect, and will have a minimum of enjoyment rather than with old uncle Freddy, or similar Christmas humbugs, the old adage friends you choose, family you don’t works pretty well, what’s the point of putting up with the family once a year, if you hate it all the time?
        A phone call telling them you got other plans, and wish them all a Merry Christmas it’s better than spend forcibly that time awfully, very likely they will talk, so what? They probably still do behind your back!
        Keep things as simple as possible, no long trips, no airline tickets, unless you are spending Christmas on a Tropical paradise with your sweetheart, no expensive gifts, for everyone, if you gone be the host, have someone else cook diner for you, otherwise you will be too tired to enjoy it, and you will suffer seeing how little some people cared for it, besides you will still face the hungover of cleaning up the mess after everybody is gone!
        My main advice it’s put it all in perspective, and do not do the same mistake all over again, unless you are a masochist. And I am serous about it, some people on my family, or friends profess never to do it again, and every year they do it anyway!
        New years? Please, just another day of the year, for special days one should be enough! 🙂

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  8. I don’t like the build up to Xmas Frederick but once Xmas day is here I enjoy cooking the Xmas dinner and relaxing after to watch a Xmassy film. That’s after I have spoken to my family in England, from here in Crete on Skype. I agree about the spend spend spend business ,it’s got far too out of hand and today the kids are far too demanding of what they want such as, computers and all those devices.. But I believe that Xmas is for kids anyway. Wishing you a very Happy healthy and prosperous New Year Frederick.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We travel so far from home these days, I guess festive occasions are the price we pay. No longer the great family gatherings by the open log fires, the presents by the tree, the carol singers and the mulled wine…but I wonder if that was ever true, or just a golden thread in the tapestry of memory? Most of my Christmases have been interlaced with crises, when I think back. So the simpler the better, maybe! Anyway, Rita, all those good wishes, for which I thank you, are returned. I hope you, too, have a great New Year. Living on Crete, I would imagine you have a head start!

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  9. Yes Frederick , living in Crete is just great and we get more quality time with the family when they come for their holidays. Sorry to hear you have experienced more crises during xmas times, it does seem to put a damper on all Xmas celebrations from then on.Happy blogging in the New Year I shall look forward to reading your interesting posts.

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