I adore Christmas. I’m one of those annoying people who starts singing Christmas songs in November and counting how many sleeps are left until the big day. I love everything about it: the food and drink, the presents, the music, the parties, the traditions. But at this time of year I always like to think about what Christmas really means to me. Is it just an excuse for a party, or is there more to it? As a self-confessed agnostic, I have to say I don’t yet know what I believe, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas can not be a special time for me.
This is what Christmas means to me:
Quality time with family
I come from a ‘complicated’ family and I really love seeing everyone together over the festive season. Christmas is one of those rare times where no one is excused from talking, laughing and playing games with family, even if they would rather be shut up in their bedroom playing on their X box. I’m spending Christmas Eve with my mum, sister, stepdad and grandparents; Christmas Day with my partner and his family and Boxing Day with my dad, stepmum, grandma and brothers and sisters. It’s been a long time since some of us have sat around the dinner table for a proper family meal, so the time is really precious to me.
The joy of giving
Of course I love getting presents (who doesn’t?), but I love giving them more. Now that I’ve left home and moved in with my partner I’ve started buying gifts for a lot more of my friends and family and it’s so much fun. I’m so excited to see some of their faces when they open their gifts- I really hope they like them!
The festive season is such a creative time. I love baking and decorating cakes and gingerbread men, decorating the tree, experimenting with glittery makeup, wrapping presents, making cards, decorations and homemade gifts. There are so many fantastic craft blogs and books out there offering a wealth of inspirational projects and I really wish I had time to try them all.
Celebrating the past year
The holiday period is always a time for reflecting on what I’ve achieved, learned and enjoyed over the past year, focusing on the good times rather than on the negative. It’s a time to celebrate another year being over and a new one with fresh possibilities being just on the horizon.
Warmth and light
In the bleak midwinter months, Christmas shines through the dark and cold like a beacon of hope. The bright lights, warm fires, cozy clothes and spicy, fruity treats make me feel all warm and glowy inside. It reminds me that however dark and miserable things can get, there is always hope.
Connecting with my spirituality
It might seem strange for an agnostic to want to connect with her spirituality, but in truth I am fascinated by anything to do with philosophy and religion. My beliefs are numerous, complicated, deeply personal and as yet undefined by any one religion, but at this time of year I like to explore and access them. That usually involves wandering into a church and looking around, reading religious texts and spiritual stories and remembering loved ones that are no longer with us. My Mum says that magic is all around at this time of year, and I think she’s right. If miracles happen, then it’s often at Christmas.
Reliving my childhood
I refuse to grow up, and Christmas gives me a great excuse to act like a kid again. I get to dress up in silly outfits I wouldn’t normally be seen dead in, play crazy and undignified games, watch soppy Christmas movies, dance around to cheesy pop music, snort outrageously at lame, unfunny jokes and eat snacks, cakes and chocolate all day. What’s not to love? I get really nostalgic at Christmas time and I just have to watch Santa Clause The Movie, Love Actually and A Muppets Christmas Carol. It’s the law. I also adore all the family traditions I was brought up with and fully intend to inflict them on my own children one day.
Reaching out to others
If you can’t reach out to strangers at Christmas, then when can you? I always try to think about those less fortunate than myself at Christmas time: the homeless, the sick, the bereaved, the lost and the lonely, the servicemen and women and their families and the poverty-stricken and hungry all over the world. I count my own blessings and wish them all love, peace and happiness for the new year. I like to give a little to charity- even if it’s just a bit of spare change in a tin at the supermarket, or one of those shoe box appeals for third world countries. I also like the idea of inviting people over for Christmas who have nowhere else to go: people who are recently single or widowed or have no family in the country and no one else to spend Christmas with. Fortunately I haven’t encountered anyone who needed our hospitality yet, but I believe that at this time of year your door (and your heart) should always be open.
I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas (or Hanukkah, Yuletide, Kwanzaa, or whatever else you celebrate) and a Happy New Year. Enjoy your holiday!
And a very Merry Christmas to you and yours Tizzy. One of the first things which comes to mind is the difference in the weather we experience at this time of year. T-shirts and shorts; BBQ's and salads; and yes, flies and mosquitoes, etc., etc. I have wonderful memories of a tiny Christmas tree that was always very special to our family, and the excitement of waking to presents underneath its little branches. Christmas has always been about faith and family to me. I struggle with many of the aspects of 'Religion', and yet the simplicity of a faith defines who I am. We have always had the 'traditional' Christmas meal – and apart from the fact that I have always longed to witness a white Christmas purely from the 'experiential' perspective' – it would also make a lot more sense to be eating the food we do with a white landscape on view. Just as an example of how things happen Downunder, we had Santa arrive this evening on the back of a ute, and he was handing out lollies to the children, and Christmas cake to we of the older generation. This was sponsored by one of the community charitable organisations (Lions Club). I am sitting here with the fan going flat out; knowing that's it's going to be one of those nights when the heat will be a constant companion. I think I am like many people when I say that the commercialism and marketing strategies become a little overwhelming at times. However, it never ceases to amaze me how this time of year does create that desire for peace and goodwill – you just need to keep clear of the big shopping centres, otherwise you'll have that knocked out of you quick smart. Anyway, I've done a lot of rambling – I really just wanted to say how fantastic your decorations look – I am imagining a mug of Egg Nog beside the fireplace – i've never partaken myself – it just seems to go with your theme. I'm not sure whether you will have a white Christmas where you are – most importantly, may it be a most joyous, safe and blessed time for you all.
Christmas downunder sounds very different and kind of fun. It's always freezing cold here but we don't often get a white Christmas- usually just a muddy brown one! It's more likely to snow in January or February here in England. Sometimes I wouldn't mind trading the cold and dark winter nights for some hot summer weather, but it would take a bit of getting used to.
I definately agree about the commercialism-every year they try to convince you to spend more and more money on tacky plastic stuff that you don't really need. I hate supermarket shopping too, I try to avoid it as it's so busy with people pushing and shoving to get the last reduced turkeys.
Mmm…egg nog, now there's an idea.
Thanks so much for your message, take care and I hope Christmas is a magical time for you.