They sold me a dream of Christmas

At the risk of being likened to dear old Ebenezer Scrooge, and a possible tongue-lashing from the family, dare I suggest that the imminent arrival of the Christmas season is possibly not the magical event that the media would have us believe.

Yes, I know, it’s the season of goodwill and all that; a time for giving gifts and being with family and, if you’re lucky, days in front of the fire, eating to excess and watching endless repeats on the TV. There’s the shopping! Shopping for gifts, shopping for the food and drink we need to see us through, and then there are the sales. What would Christmas be without the sales? Well, relaxed for one thing!

In the days before Christmas, you can see whole families staggering out of Asda or Tesco, trollies positively¬†laden with enough food to feed a small army for a month. I often wonder just how much of those essential, must have provisions end up in the bin. I hold my hands up here; we have been guilty of this in the past, over buying food that we simply cannot eat before it goes rotten. We get wrapped up in the excess of the whole thing and felt compelled to buy up anything that looks remotely festive, even if we aren’t sure we would actually ever eat it.

And why do we buy so much? after all, the shops are only closed for two days, if that. It’s not as if there is going to be a shortage of food in the days immediately after Christmas.

Then there are the sales. Forgive my ignorance here, but why does anyone need to be out at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day? Whatever happened to the January sales starting in January? Do those retail addicts who insist on pandering to the retailer’s greed give a moments thought to the poor souls who have to give up their¬†Christmas just to ensure that they can get their hands on a half-price jacket before the turkey is cold. Maybe if they all stayed away from the shops until after Boxing Day the staff would get to have their holiday as well.

I really feel sorry for the shop staff who have to work over the holiday period for no good reason. I know that there are others who also have to work normally over the holiday season; our emergency services, nursing and care staff, and utility providers amongst others.

As far as I can see, Christmas is a very stressful time of year. The pressure to buy the right presents, to stock up with the right food and drink, and trying to get around all the family, to spend time with people you only see once a year, and to keep on smiling no matter how bad the whole things gets, can be immense. Why do we do this to ourselves?

We do it because, despite all the commercialism and the stress, the spirit of Christmas remains as strong as ever. Whether you are religious or not, it is difficult to avoid being swept up by the whole religious thing. But whatever our beliefs or circumstances, we all need something to look forward to, something beyond the everyday routine. And for most of us, Christmas provides just such a break from the mundane. I for one am going to make the best of the break. It may be over commercialised, it may be stressful and often feel meaningless, but it is one of the few times of the year when most of us, me included, can relax and take stock.

And that is exactly what I intend to do.

And finally… the title of this little blog is taken from one of my favourite Christmas songs: I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake. I love the sentiment as much as the tune itself. Nobody writes good Christmas songs anymore.