Christmas is coming and I need to resist the world view of scratchy old Ebenezer Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: ‘ … every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!’
Bah! Humbug! How can this have happened to me? Somehow over the years, the spirit of Christmas has become a little more elusive. Like Scrooge I’m pondering Christmases past, present and future.
As a child of course I loved Christmas. All kids love the anticipation, the rituals, the sights and sounds of Christmas. The early morning rise to the sibilant shimmering of cicadas, the thrill of the bulging, bottomless pillowcase fairly overbalancing on the back of the kitchen chair at the foot of the bed. Then the tumbling, leaping about on Mum and Dad’s bed, urging them to get up and start this most joyous of days. The excitement of opening of endless mysterious parcels, ham and eggs for breakfast and neighbours popping in for rum balls and cake. Ironically childhood Christmases – Christmases past – are all about possibilities and the future.
When I had a child of my own and when my nieces and nephews were small, Christmases once again were a time of wonder and childish squeals of delight. It’s hard not to wallow in nostalgia for those Christmases past.
Today … my ‘Christmas present’ is tinged with a different cast. The children are grown, some things have been lost and I’m older. Now I find my pleasures in other ways. Dickens’ narrator nailed it: ‘There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.’
So Christmas now becomes a time for celebrating life itself, for putting aside the pressures of work, relaxing, and convivial communing with family and old friends. This Christmas I will reaffirm dear friendships and we’ll all remember with affection past Christmases we’ve shared. This Christmas season we will poignantly set a place for and drink a toast to absent friends, those who left our table far too soon.
I wonder what will future Christmases hold for me? Will I ever recapture the unabashed innocence and pure delight of those childhood Christmases past?
As I write this I realise with a jolt that Christmas is really a time for children. After all, children are the best at giving and loving freely, without reserve and surely this is the Christmas spirit writ large.
So I offer a quiet thanks to all the children in my life – past, present and future. Thank you to my happy, childish self. I thank my beautiful daughter – a woman now, but still full of the enthusiasm and joy of childhood. I’m grateful for my delightful nephews and nieces and indeed, their sweet babies.
Scrooge reconsidered the meaning of this special time after his ghostly visitations. ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.’
Now there’s a philosophy to embrace. So let’s all ‘open our shut-up hearts freely’ kiss the children soundly and say ‘Away with ‘Bah! Humbug!’
Merry Christmas to all and God bless us, everyone.