May we all have the Christmas that we need. Jo Carroll

Well, if it’s not bought, wrapped, or posted by now it never will be. For the whole of the ‘Christian’ world is shutting down for a few days to celebrate Christmas. (The inverted comma reflects my own view that this now bears little relation to any religious festival and is now a homage to capitalism.)

For months, the press and social media have been full of stuff we must buy. Aunt Nellie and Uncle Jack will be bereft if you fail to spend a week’s wages on something that will sit at the back of a cupboard until they get round to taking it to the charity shop. No home is complete without emptying the supermarket of mince pies and sausage rolls and sprouts. You thought you could re-use last year’s tinsel? Pah! Flashing fairy lights are essential.

And yet, as the Big Day approaches, the tone of newspapers changes. We now have to learn how to spend a whole day with Aunt Nellie and Uncle Jack (who will fart unmercifully after a sprout or two) and not want to slap them. Families, we are told, are hard work - and a whole day in each others’ company can strain the most loving of relationships. We must be kind to ourselves and others. And if we need to overdose on chocolate to get through, then that’s fine.

Think you can sit back once the whole thing is done and dusted? Just wait till the New Year - that’s when we will be bombarded with advice about how to lose all the weight we put on eating the mince pies and sausage rolls (and chocolate), without which our Christmas would have failed. We will, we are told, emerge from the festivities as slobs and it will be time to get a grip of ourselves again.

We’re writers. Other writers are churning out this stuff and, presumably, believe it. And so here is my writerly contribution to Christmas: 

None of this is compulsory. You can give Aunt Nellie and Uncle Jack nothing but a big kiss and a box of biscuits (no sprouts) - and nothing terrible happens. You don’t even have to like mince pies - so what! You love your family and a whole day spent together is one to treasure. You don’t have to eat yourself into oblivion and crawl into the New Year with barely the energy to make it to a bus stop.

I wish you all the Christmas that is right for you. And a 2018 that is peaceful for us all.

(And if you want to read about my Nepali Christmas, when I ate oranges and lentils all day, it’s in Over the Hill and Far Away. Follow the books links on my website: )


Fran B said…
So true! Like the carols we sing, we mouth the sae thing every year and every year we do it again. Sad human race.
Personally, I'm off to our local Watchnight Service to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.
Sorry about bringing religion into Christmas, but I was brought up to think it is what Christmas is about ... Silly me?

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