When I began this post, I was coming at the Christmas season with a very bah humbug attitude. The wet weather and the winter darkness tend to push my cynical buttons and before I know it, I’m grumbling like an old grampus and complaining about all that I have yet to do. This seems to happen every year. And every year I come to a point when something in my head says, Snap out of it!!.
For me though, Christmas is definitely an ambivalent, time. On the one hand, it strikes me as an “over the top” experience. People are compelled to be “happy” even when they don’t feel like it or have little reason to be . We eat and drink too much; spend too much money; celebrate for its own sake and then; we have to cope with the barrenness of January. For me, while all this is going on, there is also that little voice inside saying something like , If anything bad is going to happen, please don’t let it be at Christmas.
There is definitely something in the air at Christmastime that doesn’t exist at any other time of the year. It’s a kind of magnetic force that pulls me in and gives me cause to pause; to be grateful for all that is good about life. At Christmas, people are more generous and more empathetic. And just maybe, the closer we get to Christmas, the closer we come to giving ourselves the opportunity to take a break from our daily angst and simply be glad. It’s hard not to love that.
So here are a few things that I love and a few things that I don’t love about Christmas
Love : Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I am partial to the version starring Alistair Sim. He made a great Scrooge and each time I view the movie I look forward, with great anticipation, to the part near the end where he says, ” I must stand on my head!!” Check it out here. It is a moment of pure joy and one that makes me laugh every single time.
Don’t Love: “It’s a Wonderful Life”. ( I can just feel the presence of someone ready to pounce in indignation). To me, this movie is not only depressing but annoying as well. Before we come to the part where George finally realizes that he has a great life , we have to drag ourselves through the rest of the movie witnessing all the things that cause him to be disappointed, resentful and well, just bloody miserable. And all I want to say to him throughout the piece is Snap out of it!!
Love: I love a lot of the more traditional Christmas songs which makes it hard to pick a favourite song but the contemporary Christmas song that comes to mind first is John Lennon‘s Happy Christmas (War is Over) . I like it because it reminds me of the fragility of human relationships and the need to cherish them. It also reminds me that Christmas is often one of the best times to do that. This song is for blessing-counters all, and possibly for taking that ever important inventory of the moral balance sheet. And, (noble sweeping statements aside), I think it is a clever song. Period.
Don’t Love: John Denver’s, Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk this Christmas. This song has no redeeming features whatsoever except to remind us that in spite of the time of year, there is still a lot of pain in a lot of households. I heard this song many years ago and must admit that, at the time, it sounded so ludicrous I laughed. Now, in my perhaps more mature (okay, old) psyche I simply find it offensive. What makes it even more annoying is that it is one of those songs that sticks in your head and simply won’t let go…something like s…t to a blanket.
Love: Okay so there’s not much about the gastronomy of Christmas that I don’t like. The usual suspects that grace most peoples’ tables on Christmas Day are my favourites too… not very adventurous, but there it is. The best thing about Christmas food comes on Boxing Day, when the leftovers come out of the fridge and are unceremoniously nuked for a dinner requiring little work and not much clean up. Yum.
My favourite Christmas food? English Trifle. Check out a recipe here Love the stuff. Hope you do too.
Don’t Love: Christmas Pudding. Yuck. Just Yuck. But if you like it, here’s a recipe for that too. And may the force be with you.
Love: If we are lucky enough to have snow at Christmas, there is something magical about going for a walk at night and looking at the Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. Some people do a beautiful job of decorating their homes. And when the air outside is crisp, clear and still, I am reminded of just how lucky I am to be here.
The best part about Christmas though, is spending time with people I care about, especially when there are children about. My granddaughter has just turned three and I expect that Santa has made his presence known to her by now. I love a house that includes Santa.
Don’t Love: Putting Christmas away for another year. And oh yes, those Christmas lights that I so adore on Christmas Eve? Well, they start to get on my nerves if they’re still there in the Spring.
So, that’s it folks. Happy Christmas! And may you have many more.