Is there a person out there who hasn’t conflicting views about Christmas? On one hand, you have the hard sell, the commercialisation that begins as soon as Halloween is over – down with the fake cobwebs and witches and up with the Christmas trees.
Long gone is the notion that the Christmas spending season starts on December 8 – the game is well into the second-half at that stage.
And you spend money you can’t afford on things you don’t need, and you swamp the kids with things they never asked for – only for the chickens to come home to roost with the credit card statement that drops in the letterbox in January.
And yet – it’s Christmas.
It’s a child, wide-eyed with the sheer anticipation of Christmas, telling Santa their inner-most secrets – along with a few white lies about how good they’ve been all year long.
It’s making that list, whoosing it up the chimney in a cloud of smoke, and getting to bed early to make sure that Santa doesn’t get a glimpse of your while he’s trying to set up your brand new bike.
Christmas is for children – it always has been and it always should.
But that’s not always easy on families either, because we live in a material world – and not everyone gets the same lorry-load of toys under the tree on Christmas morning.
The St Vincent de Paul predicted over 50,000 calls for help in the run-up to Christmas – that’s 50,000 individuals and families in trouble in a country of four million people.
They won’t be the only charity who will save Christmas this year – and for those they do help, are those the Christmas memories you want to create….the year that the man delivered a few bits and pieces to the door?
They’ll tell you it’s just another day, but it isn’t.
You can’t ignore the build-up because it’s so commercialised and in your face; you can’t ignore the day itself because everyone else is celebrating and you don’t want to see like Scrooge.
So it’s hard, is Christmas – hard for those struggling for financial survival, those who don’t have their own roof over their head, those who are missing loved ones who are gone forever or just not able to make it back.
And yet it’s also the time of year when it only takes one wandering soul to return to the bosom of family for everyone to feel better about themselves.
Standing at airport arrivals; or waiting for a train to pull in – or, like those ads that show the dad driving the son home in the old family car, up a windy road as mam takes the steaming mince pies from the oven.
Go to an airport during December – particularly in the days before Christmas – and it’s full of parents waiting for children and grandchildren to fly in for a few days that make everything seem whole again.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.