Fellow Accessites team member and good friend Jack Pickard came up with a fun and interesting idea: Namely a Blog Swap Alternative Christmas Message where participants will make guest comments in other people’s blogs related to Christmas. I will be posting Jack’s message here (keep reading), mine will go in Dan Champion’s blog, Dan’s will be posted in Stephen Lang’s blog, and Stephen’s message will be posted in Jack’s. Should be fun and interesting. Here’s Jack’s offering:
A Composite Christmas Message by Jack Pickard
So what does Christmas mean to you then?
Is Christmas just that time of year where you have some time off work, eat far too much food, drink far too much alcohol, spend far too much money and generally celebrate over-indulgence and consumerism? Or perhaps you’re more into the religious side of it, and you spend Christmas thinking about the birth of Santa Claus in a manger in Bethlehem — hang on, I think it might have been the Baby Jesus, you know…
Or perhaps, neither of these really sum up what Christmas means to you. To a large extent, many of the things that you do at Christmas — write letters to Santa, visit Santa’s Grotto and so on, are shaped by whether or not you’ve got small children. Apparently, if you keep asking to sit on Santa’s knee as an adult, this is seen as somewhat suspicious, and can theoretically get you barred from major shopping centres.
Well what does it mean to me? My beliefs of what Christmas should be about were very much shaped by my own childhood. I come from a background that I would describe as staunch atheist, but that didn’t mean I didn’t understand the story of the nativity, or that this was what Christmas was meant to be about, it just meant that this was something that wasn’t particularly focussed on in our household.
For me, there are two main strands to Christmas. The first — being nice to people — is a lovely thing, and you find that many people at this time of year will have more time for others. This also fits in nicely with the Christian message.
The other main strand to Christmas, and the one which stood out the most for me as a child, is that Christmas is about family. My memories of what a Christmas is to me as a child are only really taken from a period of three years — while the family lived in London and before my parents split up.
Can I just sidetrack here by saying I’m not playing a sympathy card: both of my parents are happily remarried, they all get on, and there were three sets of parents at my wedding and my children have three sets of grandparents. So it has all worked out fine, okay?
Anyway, Christmas for me was always a time when family got together. Myself and my parents (I’m an only child) would drive up from London after the last day of school term, to stay with my Dad’s parents back in Gateshead in the North-East of England.
On Christmas Eve, my mother’s younger sister would invite family round to her house for a buffet tea. There would also be a bran tub of gifts to exchange and the chance to play some party games (when I was particularly young, Santa himself made an appearance now and again to hand out presents to the children).
And then we’d go back to my Grandma’s house and I’d lie in bed trying to fall asleep as soon as possible to make tomorrow come faster, but also listening out just in case I could hear sleigh bells. To this day, I’d still swear I heard them once…
And then on Christmas Day, we’d open our Christmas presents first thing, play with them, discover we needed batteries and spend the rest of the morning cannibalising the rest of the gadgetry in the house so we could get my toys to work. I’d normally drive some sort of vehicle into someone’s cup of tea or coffee, which inevitably would go across the floor, but people were — it being Christmas, after all — invariably good-tempered about this.
And then we’d have Christmas dinner. After dinner, my Dad’s brothers would arrive with their wives and children for a short while, and I’d get to play with other cousins, including my big cousin Mike, who was great fun to play Star Wars with.
Late Christmas afternoon, we’d go to my mother’s older sister’s house, who’d put on a buffet tea for the sisters, husbands, grandparents and large pile of children. After stuffing our faces, we’d normally jump onto the sofa in the front room and end up watching something that was fun, but not particularly Christmasy — the Dukes Of Hazzard, for example.
Boxing Day was hosted by my Nana (my mother’s mother) and that was another buffet tea, family all over the place affair, except that this one almost always involved us playing charades at some point. I have been led to believe that my miming of “The Incredible Hulk” (basically just snarling and waving my arms in the air) was a regular highlight.
But that’s what it was. Christmas Eve — family. Christmas Day — family. Boxing Day — family.
To me, that’s what Christmas is about. Spending time with your family. Being patient with one another. Children having fun and forming bonds with their parents and grandparents. It’s a time of year where people should be happy, should put aside the stresses and strains of everyday live for a few days — in the grand scale of things, does it really matter if the carrots are overdone?
So my Christmas plea to you all this year is simple.
- Spend some time thinking about your loved ones.
- Be patient with others and don’t get worked up about little things
- Have fun. Force yourself if necessary.
- …and don’t forget to Have A Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year