Christmas is rapidly approaching, at a rate of knots that is unstoppable. The problem with Christmas is that it means so many different things for so many different people that in the end, the main factor that comes out of it is, we spend an inordinate amount of money trying to make people happy, specifically the little people in our lives, our children. It has become one big present fest with lists as long as your arms for what they want without a flicker of recognition that it could be difficult for mum and dad to do this.
What else is there at Christmas?
I've regularly been told from being, I don't know, a teenager and probably about the time I started to get less interested in it, is that Christmas is a time for families to be together. This can be seen as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your family I suppose. You either love getting together with a bunch of brilliantly socialising cousins or you're left shouting into great aunt Betties hearing aid. Personally due to this little Christmas add-on of what you should do at Christmas I never really get to spend the Christmas I want to spend, which is at home with my own family creating new and special memories for my children. I always feel pressured to do what other people want me to do or expect me to do.
I can't really say a lot about this part of Christmas other than I thought Christmas was supposed to be about Jesus being born and a celebration of his birth but I hear little about this other than knowing a bunch of drunks grace their local churches for midnight mass Christmas eve just to say they've been and the ignore the whole religious thing for another year after that. I have my own thoughts about God and religion, but it's not something I'm going to go into here. I don't go to church the rest of the year, so I'm not about to go for one event in an attempt to soothe myself about the greed that occurs over the Christmas period. Do many families thank God for Jesus Christmas day or is it literally all about the presents now?
The gifts that children want now are far more expensive than anything I ever wanted as a child. Their worlds are now filled with gaming machines and the TV throws up adverts for the very latest releases, creating very loud "I wants" across the country. This places immense pressure on families to provide, because as I've noticed, every Tom, Dick and Harriet seem to manage to acquire their hearts desire (and that's not just confined to Christmas!) we shell out because we believe the expensive items will make our little darlings immensely happy and then try and catch up with running a normal house for several months afterwards.
This is something I do want at Christmas. An ability to create happy memories for my children at Christmas and not by buying them everything they want (though they will get most of it I admit) but, as I read in A Mothers Ramblings, blog this week, memories of things that come with Christmas. I want them to remember the little things. The pretty tree we had in the corner of the living room and the huge one that took up so much of the hallway that you have to turn sideways to get past it. The tin of chocolates that was a treat and not a norm. A trip to eat rubbish on Christmas eve at the nearest McDonalds that seems to have become a tradition. Getting excited about finding the stocking as we never remember where we put it in the past year. All things that aren't expensive, but come with Christmas, they're not forced or demanded of us, but things we do and feel. These things are what I enjoy about Christmas.
So what does Christmas mean to me?
Between the pressure to conform to what other people want and expect me to do and the money tree not really being at the bottom of my garden I find Christmas generally a pretty stressful experience and imagine I'm not alone in this. The saving grace for me however are the memory making moments. The small things. They may not be mentioned as something brilliant about the day at the time, but I know from my own memories that the little things do matter. I can't remember many of the gifts I received but I most certainly do remember Christmas, so it kind of shows to me that it's not the present giving bedlam I generally believe it is, there is a little magic involved, it just doesn't poke you in the face, it's a subtlety that is lasting and it's what I will be doing this Christmas - making memories for my children.
What does Christmas mean to you?