Many of us shudder upon hearing such phrases delivered with such enthusiasm at the end of October, and so is it time to re-evaluate the festive season and possibly our approach to it?
While I do confess to keeping my beady eyes open to gift possibilities throughout the year, I am not as they say ‘done and dusted’ before the pumpkins have even been carved! It has made me reflect upon how the build-up to JC’s birthday was once a joyous bundle of excitement, filled with eagerly anticipated celebrations; from Christingle to cake baking, roaring log fires infused with cinnamon, and more red ribbon than you could shake a (jingle) bell at.
It would appear at first glance now though, that the tick list has replaced the wish list and anxiety has taken over from anticipation. The Christmas television adverts seem to have somewhat overshadowed the wonder of pantomimes and “I would like” has been silenced with “I want”.
I wonder how this Christian celebration has evolved uncontrollably into a marketing frenzy and, more importantly, how, with a few tweaks, we can bring the old cherished and perhaps, forgotten values back into our family homes.
Crackers! No, not a retort, but it seems a good place to start. It never ceases to amaze me how much we spend on the ‘extras’ over the Christmas period, and our table decorations are no exception. The traditional British cracker (not heard of in America, surprisingly) would be an ideal item to start making ourselves, particularly bearing in mind the single-use plastics contained therein.
Waitrose/John Lewis has just announced it will stop selling those containing plastic toys and puzzles from 2020 in support of that very issue. Let’s face it; the absence of those trinkets will not be missed and finding perfect personal gifts small enough to fit fun in itself (frustrating but fun, honest).
Many ‘make your own’ kits are available, but they are straightforward to create from scratch and themes and jokes are of your own making. Well, that has to be an improvement in itself, doesn’t it?
Stockings used to be old rugby socks filled with nuts, oranges and sweets at the end of the bed. Now the personalised stocking is on-trend, why don’t we create our own too? Hand-made family treasures have a funny habit of lasting the test of time and bring a smile to those around at each December unveiling, whether they match the décor or not!
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate we do not all have the time to spend being creative, but perhaps we can all be inventive instead. One-off gifts made by the children or adults, and placed in a plain box for them to decorate will keep them amused for hours. The same could be said for personalised Christmas cards, advent calendars, decorations etc., and something the family could do together. Never underestimate the power of a gift made from love.
We all get caught up in what feels like the avalanche (note my only snow reference) of the Christmas Count Down though don’t we – like Wimbledon or a World Cup. Upon recollection, however, we will notice that the prevailing memories are not those recollecting the value of the gifts or how perfectly decorated the tree was, but of the cherished moments shared with family and friends.
Attention to detail, however, is everything. But, perhaps it’s the wrong details we’re focusing upon. Balancing experiences with expenditure, and tradition with technology would be a step in the right direction. Let’s step back for a moment and think about the meaning of Christmas – to coin a phrase.
I’m not talking about Bailey’s, though in our house it does herald the official start to the season, but of being mindful. Of reminding ourselves, it is not a competition, and there are no winners – well except for Amazon. Most importantly though it’s about being grateful for what we have and that doesn’t mean being the first in the returns queue on Boxing Day. Enjoy!