The joy of Christmas is in the sparkle and the magic. Some people do a sophisticated, colour-schemed affair, but not me. I grew up with a Christmas of artificial trees, with as much tinsel draped around as any room could stand and boxes and boxes of shop-bought Mr Kipling mince pies. My Christmas colour scheme is still rainbow-delight with a strong leaning towards green, red and gold. Our tree is plastic but I really believe that it looks like a tree of forest-derivation and I actually prefer it to real Christmas trees. I love to sit in my living room with the lights dimmed so that the tree is softly lighting the room. I love to have a Christmas CD in the player in the kitchen so that I can chirp along to the Christmas songs and the Christmas hymns. As a child, Christmas involved a visit to church. It doesn’t anymore, but it still includes the hymns. Christmas always involves Ferrero Rocher.
For me, Christmas is about doing lots of things the same year after year. Tacky and tawdry is my preferred style at this time of year. Many of my Christmas traditions will have their roots in my 1970′s childhood Christmas. We lived in a council flat in central London until I was nine, and then in our house in the suburbs. Each Christmas we trekked to my Nanny and Granddad’s home with our sacks of presents and our Christmas outfits (these generally included red velvet somewhere in the styling) on Christmas Eve. We were never allowed to open our presents on Christmas morning. This was partly because Nanny and Granddad weren’t that excited about this part of the day and partly because we tended to have to open them after church. Of course half of the magic of Christmas is wondering what’s inside all of the shiny packages so that really just heightened the anticipation.
Now as an adult, I like to get the chocolates out for breakfast and to have the children open the presents in the new pyjamas, whilst we swim around in a sea of wrapping paper. So in the next few days as I drag the Christmas tree box in from the shed, it will all begin in earnest. The birthday season ending for the children marks the Christmas season beginning for us all. And Christmas this year is going to be a bit of a different one. On Christmas day I am not hosting as I normally do, but am being the guest at my brother’s home. For new year we have the joy of hosting some very special friends who will be with us from New Zealand for a few days.
And like the 1970′s of my childhood, Christmas is going to be a more simple affair. In my memeory, the 1970′s are all a bit beige and brown though, and this Christmas will have a lot of colour. It will be a fairy-light-illuminated, tacky-tawdry decorated, childhood illustration of an occasion. We have little money for presents this year and so I’m planning a Christmas that is a little different than the ones I’ve planned before. My children are still at magical-Christmas age and so money or no money, I want them to have a Christmas that they love and a Christmas that is filled with love, light and enjoyment.
Some of the receiving will be replaced by giving.
Some of the shopping will be replaced by visiting.
Some of the excess will be replaced by appreciation and gratitude.
Some of the fripperies will be replaced by significant, memorable moments.
This will be a Christmas to remember and a magical time to end a year that has had a few too many challenges and changes for comfort.
Our bywords will be togetherness, sharing, giving thoughtfully and love.