The festivities are about to set in, and I for one, am trying to keep hold of my Christmas spirit. Scanning through TV channels, there’s Dickens’ Christmas Carol and I relate more to Scrooge than Cratchit; I am miserly and grumpy! At my son’s carol service last night, a church priory packed full, we watched as three members of the chapel choir (the singing elite) were assisted off to be sick. Pale, peaky and eventually led home in an embarrassed hush. At no point were proceedings stopped, we all just carried on singing ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and pretended that we weren’t observing the spread of end-of-term norovirus happen before our eyes. The children are over tired, over exerted, over excited. It’s all too much. This midwinter business is not for the faint-hearted! Our house has been a hotbed of illness over the last two weeks, I have been glugging elderflower immunity syrup and Manuka honey as if my life depends on it. Does anyone know if Manuka honey actually works?
It gets dark at four and we spend long, long evenings, wondering when the spring will come. It’s a way to go.
Meanwhile the shopping and ‘preparations’ continue in earnest.
Isn’t the mantra less is more? Doesn’t every self-help book and blog suggest to declutter, to jettison belongings, reduce, reuse, recycle? Don’t we know that for our own sanity and wellbeing, we need to stop acquiring and start appreciating? Why then, has Christmas become such a monstrosity? Don’t get me wrong, I love the twinkly trees and the build up to Santa and the re-runs of Home Alone and Elf (which I maintain are two works of genius). But it’s gone too far, surely?
Where’s the hygge? Where’s the stillness?
I find myself wondering if I have become my own enemy? Christmas used to be my favourite time of the year. Since I was a child, I planned it out, agonised over which gift to buy with my pocket-money, I even hand-printed brown wrapping paper (seriously, how did I find the time?) and tied presents with velvet ribbons. Is there anything better than velvet ribbons? There’s something so elementally lovely about velvet, it’s like the fabric equivalent of a warm hug. But I digress…
I search in myself for the source of my mood. A couple of years ago we went to Florida just before Christmas and it made me gloriously happy to see palm trees and boats decked in lights, and garlands festooned with candy canes. It seemed breezy and ironic and kitsch. Like the Coca Cola commercial. Maybe us Brits just take it all too seriously? Maybe it’s something to do with the cold and the darkness? Maybe I need to just get a grip and get onboard.
I like little Christmas trees – the old-fashioned kind that drop their needles and smell like pine – decorated sparsely. I like the rustle of paper against the stocking. I like my mum’s Danish family recipe carmelised potatoes on Christmas Eve. I like candles and red wine. I’d like it to just be slightly less amped up. Turn down the dial! Happy Friday.
Image via my scandinavian home