Christmas is a time of huge expenditure, massive parties and a gluttonous feast for the belly that takes our thoughts away from the awful climate, short daylight hours and lousy jobs we struggle to hold onto. So this Christmas has turned out to be quite a disappointment. On casual observation, I have seen very few shoppers, even less party goers and hardly any confectionary delights. Of course, these observations are subjective and it could be in the New Year that this Christmas was the best on record for retailers, the entertainment trade and chocolate makers.
Of course it is the credit crunch. It would take a complete idiot not to acknowledge the financial crisis and the relatively quiet festive period that 2008 has granted us. It is life, but doesn't it feel that this Christmas is a little bit of a damp squib? After all, the nights are deserted (except for the kids) and the shops are filled with the dulcit tones of 'festive tunes' rather than ringing tills. Well, I am guilty in contributing to this lack of economic spread. It is well known that despite being a Catholic, I live like a puritan. No drinking (or any other casual drugs), no spending on frivolity. For such a believer in Capitalism, I make a great socialist.
This Christmas is going to be a great disappointment in many people's eyes. The presents to the kids will be poorer, the food will be shoddier (oh please, like overcooked meats and harshly boiled vegetables are something to look forward to), and the booze will be of the cheaper brands sipped at home. But for me, Christmas has never been about the presents. I cannot remember any of the presents I have received. All right, for the past few years I have explicitly not wanted any presents, but the Christmases of my childhood are not filled with fantastic games or brilliant toys Instead, the memories of Christmas are the warmness generated by my parents, and their arguments too! The sense of family and of belonging. The sense of family and being together, despite the fact that all the members of my family have had to work on Christmas Day at some points in our life, including myself.
Christmas is a Christian Festival although there is very little 'faith' left in today's celebration (come on, China celebrates Christmas). However, the important message of Christmas is not the shopping or the religious message, but the sense of spending real time with the people you love. For me, it is these memories of Christmas that I recall today. ANd they will be the memories that I will recall tomorrow.