Thursday, 18 December 2014

considering the true meaning of Christmas

Around this time of year you hear occasional mutterings that children 'these days' are greedy, prioritising consumerism over the 'true meaning of Christmas'.

It is certainly the case that there is a lot of stuff my daughters would like for Christmas (my son, not so much, he wouldn't mind cash though), but they are also constantly bombarded with adverts for stuff (most of which they note looks rubbish), and people often ask them what they want. It's hardly their fault they're thinking about it. As I say, my girls have long lists going to Santa. They know they won't get everything on the lists, and that's OK, because Santa has to get presents for everyone in the world.

I love this time of year, but for we non-Christian types, the real meaning of Christmas is not about baby Jesus. That doesn't mean it isn't special, or that we need to stop calling it Christmas. After all, we still call mince pies mince pies, when their isn't any minced meat in them any more. We could call it Yule, or Winter Festival, but Christmas is fine.
Cheeky bauble on the town tree :-)

Whatever you choose to call it, this special time of year is about coming together in our darkest days to support each other, celebrate love and caring, and think about other people. People in Scotland have been doing that since before Christianity, and will continue after. It's just what we need at this time of year when we've survived the misery of November, it's really dark and we've got more cold and rain, snow and storms to look forward to.

Some of the really special things we have done around Christmas this year include my son's class (led by the marvellous Ms Hughes) collecting chocolate advent calendars for the food bank. They got 127, and hopefully this has helped lots of families. There is a lot of discussion on Largs People about donating to food banks, and I'm really glad that people help out those worse off than ourselves. Hopefully after next year's political changes, we can see an end to the need for food banks. We decided to give money to charity instead of sending Christmas cards this year, and my son was keen that we support Orchid, a charity fighting male cancer, which has become dear to us since my brother has survived cancer twice in recent years. We have also got crafty this year, making our own crocheted Christmas wreaths (instructions available on the blog at ohwedo.blogspot.co.uk), as well as lots of decorations. We also put some decorations on the tree in town, which earned us some funny looks, but was joyous nonetheless. But most importantly, we've been spending lots of time with friends and family. We're thinking of those far away, and checking in with those nearby to make sure everything's OK. 

We are not stressing about meals, or getting everything perfect. One year we failed to defrost the turkey and ended up having fish fingers for Christmas dinner. It didn't matter a bit. What mattered was spending time with the people who matter to us (and also the ones that drive us a bit crazy). Let's bring on more of that.