There's no getting away from the fact that Christmas is coming. In the last two weeks I've had a Christmas dinner, decorated two Christmas trees, listened to a multitude of Christmas playlists, bought Christmas presents, been to a Christmas carol service and last night even did Christmas zumba with a set of reindeer antlers on my head. Our local town is decked out in Christmas lights and the first question everyone asks is, "Are you ready for Christmas?"
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily a "bah humbug" person (how can I be with those reindeer antlers) but I have found myself contemplating on how easy it is to get sucked into the whole commercialisation of what is meant to be a Christian celebration. Of course there's nothing wrong with a good party and, after all, the Christians did rather hijack the Roman festival of Saturnalia. However with the word "Christmas" appearing in front of every activity and product, I'm afraid it's begun to get somewhat tedious.
Yesterday I made my annual Christmas visits to some of the elderly residents of the local almshouse at which I am a trustee. Many were reminisicing about Christmases past and the small stocking (not a specially embroidered Christmas sock) that Santa Claus would fill when they were children with an orange, some small change and nuts; there were no expensive gifts but they were nonetheless appreciative of what they received.
When we were working, the pressures of preparing for a family Christmas sometimes seemed so great that we regularly escaped by disappearing abroad, preferably to a ski resort where infinite snow and exercise distracted the mind from the occasion or better still India and Malayasia where life went on as normal.
In retirement we feel better able to confront the exploitation that is now associated with Christmas although I confess that, in the interests of simplification, there are moments when the prospect of treating my nearest and dearest to old socks stuffed with tangerines and a few coppers has a certain appeal.
All of that said and in time honoured tradition, I'm off tomorrow to buy Christmas stamps for Christmas cards whilst wearing a Christmas jumper for Save the Children's Christmas Jumper Day. "Making the world better with a sweater," and at least the first part of that slogan encapsulates the spirit of Christmas.