After the new wave of Halloween commercialism in our stores in Australia, enter Christmas! Yes, Christmas trees, baubles, tinsel, fairy lighting, Santa everywhere. There is piped music, Christmas carols in every shop, with gift suggestions for people of any age. Tins of biscuits and chocolate treats, must buy stuff, the Christmas wrapping and gift tags.
Yes, we are winding up for the holiday atmosphere of Christmas, bigger and better than ever before. Buy! Buy! Buy! Schmaltz in every store! Christians would say that Jesus is the reason for the season. As oldies, even if folk have no specific beliefs, we are all trying to rein in the lavish giving and the expectations of the young ones. We try to teach them to donate presents for less fortunate children. We can purchase non-perishable foods, including plum puddings, shortbreads and tinned hams, all for Christmas hampers for underprivileged citizens of Oz.
I do wonder why the need for charity is increasing in our lucky first world country, why some can afford Christmas so splendid, and the have-nots cannot afford Christmas food or toys or books for their young children. The have-nots have teenagers too, so we can give them gift cards to choose their own clothes and music, or we can donate wallets or make-up. We shall never know if the recipients are simply unemployed, drought stricken farmers, or if the kids’ parents were addicts of something. At least someone is thinking of them at Christmas.
This reminds me of one family anecdote of my old Grandpa Jack. He loved the holiday atmosphere of Christmas. He would arise from his armchair on his walking stick, then attend a series of free Christmas lunches, at the local council, the Elderly Citizens, the Lawn Bowls and at every church in the district. He always told them he was a poor old widower, with no family and home alone at Christmas. Then he would turn up at our place, always welcome of course, and enjoy Christmas lunch and tea with us. Maybe he just loved plum pudding!
Ah, the holiday atmosphere of Christmas! For a while, I put on my mud-coloured Pollyanna glasses. Who is not talking to whom before and after Christmas, sometimes for valid reasons? Which estranged non-custodial parent is driving into a brick wall of the family law court for Christmas? In the modern world, who is not seeing some of their grandchildren for Christmas? I do wonder about the ones missing out the most, the grandparents. Then there are the reflective, resilient children of the ‘amiable’ divorce. Over Christmas, they shall have about five Christmas meals, receive clothing and dressing gowns that do not fit, books they have already read. They can have a blue with their step-siblings in the Brady Bunch scenario that never quite works like a sitcom, and end up with a massive stomach ache trying to please everyone.
Never mind, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’, as the old carol sings. As the oldies, we can try and pour balm on troubled waters, soothe their issues and do our best for everyone to enjoy the holiday atmosphere. Buy! Buy! Schmaltz in every store.