Thursday, 8 December 2011


Good evening, folks, from a fairly warm Corfu, Tis the season to be jolly or is it? So many people I have spoken to this year have told me the same thing. Christmas no longer holds any meaning for them. Leaving the religious issue aside, Christmas, for most, used to mean a time of joy, families getting together, good food and the sharing of gifts as symbolic representation of the birth of Christ. As a child, I used to adore Christmas. I reveled in the smells wafting from the kitchen. All homemade in those days, folks. My mother made her own cake, mince pies, puddings, own stuffing, fresh turkey. Of course, a few French delicacies where added. My mother made the most scrumptious liver pate and a salmon mousse for which she is renowned on four corners of the globe. Long after I believed in Santa, it was still a thrill waking up to exciting packages under the tree. As children growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, Christmas and birthdays was the time for receiving that gift you’d longed for all year. There was none of this, don’t worry, dear, mum will order it on Amazon – all-year-round spoiling that goes on today. The amount of money spent nowadays on unnecessary food and mountains of gifts is, quite frankly, in my opinion, obscene.
Oh I hear the battle cry go up – but you would do the same if you had the money. I beg to differ. I do not share this modern obsession with collecting ‘stuff’ just because I can. And where is the joy and thought that used to go into Christmas shopping? Again, back to my youth. Walking through the town with my sisters, to the background chorus of Christmas carols, choosing one totally useless but straight from the heart present for our mother – usually a gift box of Yardley soap and talc but she loved it. Now, I have even heard of folk calling each other up, Next catalogue open on their knees while they tell each other what to buy for themselves. Oh tidings of great joy – not!
Christmas should be about {again, I am not getting into a religious discussion} sharing quality time with friends and family, enjoying good food without excess and raising a glass {or two} to the promise of a better year. So folks, I dare you. Fill your kids’ stocking with a tangerine and a handful of walnuts, cancel the enormous Toys R Us and Amazon order, snuggle up with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine and shove in a dvd of It’s a Wonderful Life.


  1. I think Christmas IS still magic for children. Before a child reaches the insatiable electronic age of demand, he or she is thrilled with inexpensive gifts. It IS still possible to shop and spend, say fifty dollars, and come away with a number of small kid-o gifts that will delight for under the tree. It is when kids get to the 'must have a phone, i-pad, innumerable e-games etc' that shopping becomes extraordinarily expensive. It is tough for them to realize that 'toys' increase in price as one grows, so be very happy to get one instead of five. Life's lessons in reality. *sigh*

    Yes--we are way too commercial. Yes, many could well do with considering something other than a gift that will be forgotten in a week. A ticket for family to attend local concert, play, or other event would bring all together. A little thought and a gift can mean more.

    ...and there in lies the rub. It takes time to consider a unique or special gift that will bring joy and (hopefully) some togetherness. E-games bring isolation. Maybe not the best choice for a holiday time that is supposed to be family oriented.

    Those lovely culinary memories you mention Viv are marvelous. Once again...most women work outside the home and have little energy to do a big dinner and scrumptious home made treats. Maybe have the kids participate in the making of such. Depending on the age of the kids--this can put even more pressure time-wise and clean up on the Mum. As a former kindergarten teacher, I can tell you it took at least twice the amount of time to set up for parent volunteers to come in and 'help' than if done on my own. Same with preparing projects for small children to do. Lifetime memories are built through such, but reality is--Mum is tired!
    Dad can and should help as should auntie, uncles, grandma and pa. How many families have those relatives living in the same town, let alone block, as was true in days gone by? I think this is more a product of cultural shift, than any laziness or ill intent.

    Great topic for discussion, Viv. What do others have to say?? How could we mitigate this movement away from wonderful home grown memories?? (and not kill Mom in the process. Christmas should be fun for her too!)

    Christine London

  2. Great response, Chris. The problem isn't so much finding the perfect gift but more the amount of gifts that are given. Even young children are faces with a Santa sack full of toys - far more than you and I ever had. The result -they cannot concentrate on one so in the end lose interest and probably go back to an old faithful.


  3. The old 'banging on the pots and pans---using the toy box as toy' syndrome. lol.