Miss W has been leading a frantic life recently… The details will be revealed in a few days, but in the meantime, she has some thoughts on the festive season.
I was brought up in an evangelical Christian environment, so Christmas was a big deal, on account of it being Jesus’ bday and stuff. Christmas morning was church, lots of prayers and boring carols (The most boring ones are always the really churchy ones…you know I’m right) And although I still consider myself a Christian and attend church from time to time, religious Christmas has lost its meaning for me. Plus, historical/cultural studies indicate that Jesus was probably born in autumn anyway…Merry 25th of October….
On the other hand, Miss W also spent many a Christmas season experiencing the drunkenness of the Cumbrian population… Suddenly going out loses its meaning when there are girls stumbling around with bare feet and their mini skirts offering a full view of their hooha. Why, I ask, do we poison ourselvesinto stupors and pretend we’re enjoying it? Drunkenness also means I occasionally witnessed some familial mince pie throwing – I wish I could say it was a competition of some kind, but it in fact involved members of my family hauling mince pies at each other in an alcohol-fuelled anger-fest. So, yay.
Christmas has also long since made me sad, not quite sure why, maybe absences, empty seats at the table… Being away from places and people you love… This season of excess in every way makes me sad when I see people who live on our streets with nothing.
A few days ago I went into a shop in London I had always really liked. This shop is by no means a chain, it sells beautiful designs, and original objects, but suddenly it felt meaningless to me. The shelves were crammed full of rows of the same objects, people in the shop were rushing and shoving past each other to grab things to buy in a hurry. Seeing this anxiety to consume made me feel sick.
And a word on office Secret Santa presents… Hands up who actually enjoys them? How many Secret Santa presents end up in the charity shop? or worse, in the bin? Why are we wasting so much time and money on useless soul-less objects which we neither want to buy nor receive?
Miss W is the first one who loves a luxury object, or browsing in the shops, but… this year something feels different. I don’t want to spend my free time pushing other people in a shop to get a meaningless gift for someone.
Christmas for me highlights so much of what I think is wrong in our society. A time which should be about getting together with people we love (which I know is also part of it) seems to have become for many a time full of stress, extortionate expense, gluttony and excess. Who profits from all this anyway?
This year I have also found myself somewhat stumped when loved ones asked me what I wanted as presents… I have to say, I am lucky enough to have not only what I need, but also most things I want.
I would love this Christmas time to be a calm period spent happily with my quirky and imperfect family, going for walks, enjoying lovely food and drink without overdoing it or making ourselves ill, and trying to add cheer into the lives of those who lack it.
A quote in one of my favourite books, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, says: “L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” – The essential things are invisible. That is what I want to celebrate this Christmas, the invisible things.