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!