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Christmas comes but once a year – and thank heavens for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a festive fanatic! I love all the commercialism and ceremony that Christmas is; the music (I play too early), the baking (even earlier) and the mesmeric delight in driving past a street illuminated like Christmas trees. But lately I’ve begun to feel disillusioned.
Christmas, with its cracker snap of saccharin and smiles and peace on earth, also means copious amounts of stress and disappointment. The festive period with its hopes and wish lists fail to come forth, and you find yourself sitting watching ancient comedy re-runs with a tipple for one. And you feel crap.
The fact is, real Christmas for many isn’t the chocolate box depiction of a rosy cheeked family around the hearth.
We fall in love with old songs that treasure a time we played games together and our romanticised Coka Cola Christmas is cosy and embracing yet we barely know our neighbours to pop a Christmas card through their letterbox. All but everyone is having a merry old time at Christmas, and for some, December’s social calendar is the nail in the coffin of a lonely and miserly year.
A good Christmas with all its trappings requires funds and fellowship. Without an income to buy gifts and food there is no comfort and joy. Without friends we’re lonely this Christmas.
Food banks, job losses and austerity are the buzz words for modern life, yet we continue to yearn for expensive and better possessions, filling up the credit cards and over-egging our limit. Our dreams of perfect white Christmases only made the desires worse.
Thrifty living is the chic, latest trend but there’s no novelty about the need to live it. Reverting back to a ‘make do’ way of life when Christmas wasn’t the industrial size it is now doesn’t cut it; frugality may be satisfying but not when that is your only choice. When Christmas is perfect it commands the best: the finest food, the ‘wow’ gifts. When you can’t attain that, Christmas is no longer the dream.
The spirit of Christmas lies within companionship; family and friends coming together. Socially rich people don’t consider the lowly isolation of having no friends. A quiet Christmas when you long for the sound of chatter and laughing makes for debilitating emotion. Having a one way relationship with the box and your single glass does not a merry Christmas make.
Loneliness does not care who its victim is, by age, gender or social standing. It creeps through the back door of the self employed home office, into the life of the young city worker, even the couple. Whether you work aside a colleague or life is lived within each other’s pockets, through lifestyle or crisis, you still crave the outside world.
Christmas only comes once a year, and for all the commotion and commercial beauty it’s over in time for those new year promises. That by next Christmas things must be improved. No way will you go through that again.
Christmas is lovely: bright and energising; hopeful and comforting. By contrast, a poor Christmas – lacking in money and threadbare in friends – isn’t the dream, nor should it be the reality for anyone at this time.
Surround yourself with those you love and befriend those you don’t yet know. Lend a hand at a Christmas lunch for the lonely, donate to a food bank, pop a Christmas card through your neighbour’s door. Spread a little seasonal cheer and help those who are drowning in the struggle to make it Christmas. Charity begins at home and our community is the heart of it.