The lights have started twinkling, little children are getting excited, and up and down the land we are being urged to “feed the world” and that “Santa Clause is coming to town”.
Can you feel it yet? That sneaky snaky feeling of dread and inadequacy. Yup, that’s the one.
It’s the idea that the decorations won’t be sparkly enough, the turkey not grass-fed enough, presents not lavish or well-thought-out enough. You know there will be the traditional heart-sinking squabbles and a mess of pine needles. And once again no one will eat sprouts. It’s Christmas.
Go on, admit it. The office seasonal bash fills you with horror – somehow you forgot to lose that half stone and you simply can’t wear that same dress again. There’s the card-no-card dilemma and another bum-numbing nativity to sit through.
Yet, it’s the season of goodwill and social media feeds swell with messages that tell us that being present is much better than giving presents. Yeah, right. Obviously, we know that queuing in the rain to buy what everyone agrees is the must-have toy is madness, but we do it anyway. Think of their delighted little faces. And the biggest festive phenomena will certainly be an advert created at a cost of millions by a retailer that’s banking on making billions in the Q4 returns. Flea-ridden scavengers on a trampoline, anyone?
Of course, I know this makes me sound like an ungrateful Scrooge. And I’m lucky. There will be turkey on my table, presents in stockings, and family members around to bicker with. It makes me wonder how this magical season must feel to those less fortunate. What if you haven’t got any family? Hardly enough money to buy baked beans? Maybe someone died this year? If you’re ill? Uncertain? Frightened? How bad must the festive folderol feel then?
I can’t pretend to know how to solve and I really don’t want to join the sanctimonious choirs carolling about the “true meaning” of this Christian festival. Good grief, for many of us it’s enough of a challenge to be the people we are, without feeling that we should be something else, someone better.
Maybe I’m the only one with a flimsy Christmas carapace, but I suspect not. Am I still allowed to make a wish on the penny in the plum pudding (other than that there are more in my purse)?
I wish that we could just have a little less festive season everywhere – fewer adverts, less pressure, fewer experts telling us how we could be doing it better, and lower expectations.
In exchange, how about we pledge to read more books, spend more time doing ordinary things together (Monopoly, anyone?), go for more walks and find more contentment in what we already have.