It is just a few weeks to Christmas, so the retailers tell me. My letterbox is packed full of shopping pamphlets and brochures. Shopping centres are perfectly decorated, and their piped music plays a continual Christmas theme. Yes, the advertising for the perfect Christmas Day is at saturation point. Some retailers tell me what to cook on the day, some what to wear, others how to decorate and prepare my home and others, what type of gift I should be purchasing for my family. Heaven forbid if I don’t keep up with the Joneses.
Give me the good old days, when Christmas lunch was a cooked chicken, baked veggies and gravy, pudding (with hidden threepence) and creamy egg custard. A small pine tree, set in the lounge-room corner, decorated with handmade paper streamers, milk-bottle top decorations, silver painted gum tree nuts and a prized set of glass baubles (which would be safely packed away in January ready for the following year’s celebration). The fireplace mantle strung with delightful Christmas cards (mainly snow-covered scenes), wishing our family a ‘Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year’.
In my youth, there was very little advertising, no one telling us what décor was ‘on-trend’, no Christmas lights, no shopping centre displays with Christmas soundtracks on replay. There was still the expectation of presents from Santa, in my case, a doll or doll’s cot (hand made by my father) or shorty pyjamas (hand sewn by my mother) and a net Christmas stocking packed with hard sweets, chocolate and small junky toys. It’s all so different to what children expect today.
There was none of the racing around to visit this one or that one, making sure all personages are included for Christmas drinks and wishes. The work Christmas drinks (past employees included), the social club dinner, the ladies’ lunch, the annual dinner and drinks with best friends, the neighbours’ get-together, the community carols, the local and neighbourhood free social events.
How did we get here? It is all too much, the stress of it all can be overwhelming. Some call it the ‘silly season’ and I cannot but agree. A retailer’s hype, the must buys, the must do, the must have and the must be seen. Enough! I believe we have really lost the special meaning of Christmas.
To date I have had 66 Christmas days, not that I can recall them all, but the most memorable are when I was a child and later in life those Christmas days celebrated overseas, away from the relatives and family. Family celebrations at Christmas can be fun, but we all know Christmas time can bring out the best and worst in us all and being absent at times, can be a healthy start to a New Year.
As I age Christmas has become a burden, I rarely look forward to it; all the stress of gift buying, running around to catch up with people, trying to fit in with everyone’s arrangements and commitments. My family circle is large, there are parents, siblings, children and their partners, step-children with partners and extended family, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, in-laws, parents of in-laws, ex-partners and their extended family. There are so many to consider when decisions are made about who, when and where Christmas day will be celebrated. The logistics and planning of big family events, are never my decision, thank goodness, however it would be nice, just for one year to be considered a priority.
This year I am taking care of myself and making my wishes for the day a priority. To lessen the stress and overload, my husband and I will be having Christmas day at our home and we will extend an invite for all family and friends to come visit us. I will not be decorating a tree, just putting out some special Christmas baubles, purchased from different countries during times of travel. Just for some bling, we may have some twinkling lights in the front garden but that is it, that will be all. Enough is enough!
Please if you can, drop in, we will be home all day and there will be plenty of food and drink to share. You will find me relaxed, not stressed, just comfortable, and happy to share some Christmas spirit, good food, good wine, conversation and cheer.