Well, Christmas has come and gone. Many of us are now planning a New Year’s party to remember (and not realising that the plans we’re making ensure we will mostly forget). But before we move on from Christmas, I thought I’d take a moment to rate it.
What I would dismiss.
- The drink. When wine is warmer than room temperature we complain. We do this all year long. Hot red wine? I’d like to talk to the manager! Then suddenly mid-December rolls around, someone throws some cinnamon and an orange into our wine and we drink it like coffee. And then your aunty brings round an elderberry white wine that is the deep red colour of blood (but it is white wine) and we drink that too.
- The food. I’m not kidding. My digestive system has spent the last 5 days either stuck in a traffic jam or getting speeding tickets (and that is the most tasteful way I can think to express it). I don’t like mince pies but, just like glühwein, because they’re around I eat them. You know when you eat chocolate and that first bite makes your mouth flood with saliva as the taste spreads across your mouth? Not anymore; I have even managed to eat chocolate until it bores me.
- Religion. Even if we called Christmas “12 days of exclusive celebration for Christians only”, I would still celebrate it. Any Christian that got angry with me I’d reply to with “forgive me.” Is that not a central tenet? I don’t care what it’s called. I wished a Merry Christmas to my Hindu family. Maybe next year we won’t argue about a name so much.
- Family. You know those family members that never get a second thought; the ones that don’t come around on a bank holiday and you don’t know when their birthday is; the aunt that you don’t know if they’re part of the family through marriage or which parent they’re related to you through or if they’re just your grandma’s friend? Why does Christmas mean we have to sit in awkward silence with these people? Year-long these people haven’t mattered, and they still don’t. But a collective festive-guilt gathers among the family you do know, and the family greets this estranged family member that no one has spoken to since 1994 when they needed some money with wide-armed, dead-eyed, feigned-enthusiastic hugs.
Oh, Ba Humbug to you too! No one made you take part! True, but I do like Christmas, so what I keep? In fact, to hell with Christmas, what do we do in the festive season that we should do all year round?
What I would keep.
- ‘Tiz the season. I see no reason that goodwill should be seasonal. How about some seasonal goodwill in May and smiles all through August? When you contemplate giving to charity slogan shouldn’t be “Well, it is Christmas”.
- The food. If you ignore the snacks and nibbles, the food at Christmas does something spectacular. Thanks to Christmas even people who spend all year living on TV dinners and cook-from-frozen pizzas spend a day getting to know food. I like to think that every year Christmas-cooking converts a few cook-from-frozen people into people who made a home-cooked meal, perhaps only once a week.
- Family. Christmas is dedicated time off for the people who matter in your life. Maybe September wasn’t an easy month for you. Maybe life has gotten hard and finding time for people has gotten nearly impossible. But for one brief spell, every year, you are given time off to see people. It’d be great if we could find that time a little more often.
I hope you had a very Merry Christmas, and I hope that what made Christmas enjoyable is something you will try to do all year.