A Christmas contradiction.
I love Christmas.I love the magic of counting the days of advent by reading a special winter or Christmas poem every night before we eat our evening meal. Since I selected all the poems, they are all poems that I love. So, every night when I open the folder to read the one for the day I smile and Spiderman says, "Wait! Don't tell me! Is this one of your favourite ones?"and I laugh and say, "Why, yes it is!"
I love my birthday which is two weeks before Christmas. I love the tradition of putting up our Charlie Brown Christmas tree on my birthday. I love that for every year we have been married we have bought or made a new ornament for the tree. I love that we buy a card and write a message to each other that reminds us of what we have experienced together that year. Every ornament on our tree holds a memory.
I love that on my birthday we always eat leek and potato soup. It is so warm and comforting and delicious. When we were first married, it was the symbol of England. We ate it dreamed of someday moving to the UK. And now we have. It is like having my dreams come true when I eat that soup.
I love that on my birthday we always watch The Muppet's Christmas Carol. I love hearing Spiderman hum along to the songs and occasionally do his Jazz Chicken impression on the songs that have a brass band.I love being able to feel genuine grief when Tiny Tim dies. I cry every year even though I know perfectly well that he is actually alive.
I love going to the Pantomime for birthday. I love the familiar fairy tales (this year Dick Whittington!) I love the interaction where you shout at the actors. I love the songs, ridiculous costumes and dancing. I adore the terrible jokes and puns.
I love picking out the fancy paper and making our Christmas cards. A friend recently offered us a chance to use her e-card service for free, but I had to tell her no. I love the beautiful paper. I love the feel of the gluestick in my hand. I love the skritch of the scissors. I love the joy of making.
I love waiting for the sound of the thunk on the doormat downstairs and knowing there might be a Christmas card in the post. I love rushing downstairs and opening the door and quickly grabbing the post and scampering upstairs again because it is bloody freezing down below and I am in my sock feet. I love opening cards from other people. I just love getting post.
I love Christmas dinner. I love nutroast, potatoes, and vegetables smothered in gravy. I love sticky toffee pudding. I love being in the kitchen with Spiderman as side by side we prepare the food. I love drinking Norfolk punch (a non alcoholic mulled punch made with orange, lemon and elderberry juice with herbs and spices that range from cinnamon and cloves to chamomile and dandelion. The recipe comes from Medieval monastery.)
I love bundling up on Boxing Day and taking a walk in the frosty air and strolling through a nearly deserted town with my beloved.
I love sitting in front of the telly in my pyjamas and watching Christmas dvds while nibbling on fruits and nuts and candy.
I love eating Turkish Delight and pretending that we are Edmond and the White Witch in Narnia.
I love celebrating Jesus' birthday.
But I also feel in a way that contradicts all that joy.
I hate Christmas
I hate that shops begin to put out Christmas decorations in November. This year it started in October. Wilkos had a row with Halloween decorations on one side and Christmas decorations on the other.
I hate Black Friday. I hate people pushing and shoving to get a bargain. I hate all the emphasis on presents. Did you see me mention presents up there? No. No, I did not.
I hate the commercialism of it all. I hate the greed. I hate people thinking what can I get here rather than how can I help.
I hate the fact that it centres around suffering and death for so many people. Order your Christmas turkey early to avoid disappointment! Why not try roasting your potatoes in goose fat this year for extra crispness?
I hate how busy all the shops are. Everyone pushing and shoving. People lose their manners in December (and by this I mean people are so fixed on their agenda that they don't notice you. They wheel their trolley right over your foot and then glare at you because you were in their way not the Louisiana definition of "lose your manners" which means to fart.)
I hate that Santa's Grotto (or Grotty Santa as we have been calling it) sets up in town with real live reindeer. I know as a child it would have seemed magical to see real reindeer, but as an adult I can see how miserable they look being forced to walk up and down the crowded shopping parade. Plus they were really shivering and the trainer lady said they needed to be indoors soon as it was getting dangerous for them as several were ill. They had rheumy eyes. But you know what? They were all still there two hours later when I passed by again.
Our town has at least eight Christmas trees. I hate that one has to be in front of the Tower where my friends run their vegan stall. Last year the tree was up from late November to mid January. That is seven weeks that they cannot be out there selling cake to raise money for animal charities. I hate that they are blocked from doing good due to a tree.
I hate the Christmas lights. Well, it's not the lights themselves that i hate, but rather the cost of running them for the season. The lights in Carmarthen were officially turned on November 18th. November 18th, people! When we lived in Hitchin, i recall an appeal where they needed to raise £10,000 to pay the electric bill for the Christmas lights. They already had £10,000 and needed ANOTHER £10,000 to afford to run the lights. £20,000!!!!!! That is more money than we make in a year.
I hate the fact that budget cuts and unemployment rates have skyrocketed. I hate that more and more families cannot meet their basic needs, let alone try to cobble together something for their kiddos for the holiday. I hate that we spend £20,000 on Christmas lights when people go hungry.
I hate that people lose sight of the fact of the importance of the Winter Solstice and forget about the birth of a baby in a manger.
Are you a conflicted Christmas person, too? What can we do?
Although, I will be making cookies, too.