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What is the true meaning of Christmas?

Some would say that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year”, many others would disagree and some may not even know what Christmas is.

But what does Christmas mean to you?

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For me, Christmas begins in the early days of December when the council put the 8ft tree outside the house. The tree our parents told us was put up by the elves so Santa would know where our house is, a story which was 100% believable as we would sit opening our presents in my parents room with the shining l

ights creeping through the blinds. Santa found us each year!

As a child, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year! You spend the last three weeks at school doingnothing more than making cards, rehearsing the Christmas show and telling your teachers what you would like Father Christmas to bring you.

As children me and my brothers (5 and 9 years older than me) always received beautiful presents from our very hard working parents (Santa!) but we were never spoilt. We were grateful for everything we received and we were happy to share the gifts with each other. The gifts were not necessarily the most expensive, for me getting Thumper, my first rabbit was by far the greatest Christmas present EVER! Not only was it something I have always wanted but to have the responsibility of looking after a real animal at the age of 9 taught me more than any computer game ever would.

But as you get older and the magic fades you notice how much Christmas is commercialised and centred on price tags and monetary value. We seem to have lost the real value of Christmas. The key values I would say are:

1. The birth of Jesus

2. Spending time with family and loved ones

3. Giving something back to people less fortunate

Starting with the birth of Jesus, how many of us have actually honoured the significant event by going to Church this year? How many of us have given a thought to the adversity and struggles Mary and Joseph faced? It seems ironic to think that nowadays the birth of Jesus is such a juxtaposition within contemporary society. Mary gave birth in a barn with nothing more than a manger and Joseph at her side. Today, we sit in our warm homes, eating food which we never do any other day in the year, engrossed with gifts, half of which will have been produced and packaged in vast factories in the East by people on below minimum wage, working for survival.

What are we doing to help others at Christmas? For me I do not do nearly enough.

The best part of Christmas for me is to have the immediate family altogether, it is one of the only days we have everybody together under the same roof, which seems ridiculous when we all live very close to each other and there are only  9 of us! As a nation we often strive to have a ‘perfect’ time at Christmas where the posh cutlery is out, silky napkins are on the table and the best wine glasses have been polished. However much we all try, many of us will be sat on the card table at the end of the dining table, on a deck chair crashing elbows with your great Auntie’s cousin’s daughter and when it comes to pulling a cracker you have more chance of getting a black eye than winning the mini screw driver set.

This is a real Christmas dinner!

Why does Christmas need to be so perfect?

The media and popular culture portray an image of Christmas that is full of snow, perfect dinner, happy families DSCF2725and everybody falling in love! But is this actually what christmas is about? For many, it is a sad time of the year where we remember the people who should be sat on the deck chair winning the screw driver set. And what about the people that have nowhere to go? Or those that do not get presents or even a card? Or those who cannot even afford heating during the cold months. You never see that scene in Love actually or the Holiday.

So it can be said that christmas is a rather odd time of year! There are many mixed emotions and there are always winners and losers, and of course a divide between the rich and poor. Although the ‘magic’ of Christmas is a white lie, Father Christmas offers us all hope, hope of rewards for being good people, hope that Christmas will bring the family together, hope that the year ahead will be better than the last. But what happens to hope and appreciation when we shower children with iPads, Xboxes, and toys? Do they really appreciate the magic of Christmas or the magic of MasterCard?

Christmas for me is a surreal, wonderful yet a nostalgic time. I am blessed with a family who despite our ups and downs are a very close happy, healthy family unit …. unless United are losing or the girls win the Christmas board game!

Price tag v Pleasure ?

When we think about growing up and the thousands of pounds spent on us as children and adults how many of the presents do we remember? For me it is the feeling which sticks in my mind.

The happiness of playing monopoly with my Granny on Christmas eve in my pink silk pyjamas, slipping of the sofa every time I moved the dog and hiding the dice in her sherry.

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The joy of performing in the Cliviger Christmas show with your best pals when you can see your mum and dad on the front row.

Waking up on Christmas morning and jumping on Dee next to me shouting “He’s beeeeeeen!!”.

The happiness of sledging on Nanna’s super sledge for the 22nd year in a row!

The shock of seeing Thumper in the laundry room in 1999.

The delight of giving my Grandad a hug when he came in the house on Christmas day and him calling me his little

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‘tatey’.

And now seeing the excitement that my parents have when Erin their 18 month old Granddaughter rings the door bell shouting “Nannnnaaaaa” “Grandaaaad”.

The excitement of hearing about Matt (oldest brother) and Cat’s engagement 8 years ago and now Dee (middle brother) and Jess’s this year.

The warmth of seeing Auntie Jean (our 81 year old family friend) see us all as her family, and to see each one of us embrace her as our own.

Dee and Jess, the soon to-be Mr and Mrs Lees.
Dee and Jess, the soon to be Mr and Mrs Lees.

All of which have something in common ……. they do not cost a penny. (Apart from the sledge, the bunny and the engagement rings!). They are all priceless in there own way, and money will never be able to buy those moments, especially when the people in them have gone.

So for me, the importance of Christmas is not the material giving or receiving, it is the giving and receiving of love,  community, appreciation and good will. 

 

Is it too late to do something about it now?

No. Why not make a few New year resolutions which will help others not just around Christmas but throughout the year, here are a couple of ides!

  • Volunteer and inspire children or help our older generation
  • Do something for charity
  • Join the organ donation register
  • Knock on a neighbours door once a fortnight, you never know who may be living next to you!
  • Shop at local butchers, grocery stores and charity shops
  • Go to Church!

Here is what a few people said what Christmas means to them!

“Get treated like crap by the majority of customers who don’t realise that it’s Christmas for me too. Eating so much cheese I’m sick and not feeling guilty.”

“Family and giving! Too much wine. Too much chocolate. Togetherness. Home. Thoughtfulness. Hectic. Board games. Christmas dinner. And love.”

“Friends, family. Sharing, giving. And eating far too much food!”

“A lost religion, giving, receiving, heartache, warmth, memories, snow, play, children smiling, wonder, love.”

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So there it is, a very long, messed up account of my opinion of Christmas. It was pretty hard to put it altogether because I genuinely love Christmas and appreciate every gift I receive and all of the effort that goes into the dinner but when we think about the bigger picture, are we all doing enough to help each other? And do we really appreciate it?

Who knows!!

This is me, and this is my Christmas. 

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