A few days back I (Hilary) completed the Christmas shopping. I did it all on line but still found it stressful. More so, in a way, as I couldn’t actually see what I was getting though at least I did not have to brave the crowds, crush and carols.
I freely confess that I do not like Christmas. One of the things I like about living in Turkey is that I don’t have Christmas impinging upon me from every side from half way through October. Sure, there were New Year decorations in Bornova Forum which included decorated fir trees and reindeer but I know for a fact that Ikea started selling these in Sweden two months previously.
Christmas is, of course, still happening. And it goes without saying that we will miss family and friends with especial poignancy at that time. But I will not miss the stress. And I will not miss the constant pressure to be ‘Christmassy’ which has very little to do with the meaning of the festival itself.
I do not miss having to get up in the hours of darkness and being in an office through all the hours of light. I will not even miss the wonderfully empty tube trains on the journey into work between Christmas and New Year. Or the 08:00 meetings which are inquorate due to people being on annual leave.
More than anything I will not miss the need to explain to people why I don’t like Christmas. I have nothing against the festival itself, I’m not keen on the pressure to spend, spend, spend, but my real issue is the pressure it puts on families to be ‘proper families’ – an ideal of happy families that is not possible in the real world and which makes so many people feel like inadequate failures.
And, of course, those who do not have families or even a home. The illusion of a ‘family Christmas’ promoted by commerce and the media is not a lot of fun for them. And, remember, this starts in mid-October.
We wish all of you the Christmas / Yule / Solstice /Canukah /New Year celebrations that you would wish for yourself. Me, I’m hoping for a quiet day and waiting for the sun.