“Bah,” said Scrooge, “Humbug.”
I hate to say it, but I’m struggling to find my Christmas cheer this year. Actually now I think about it, I struggled to find it last year too. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is.
Is there something missing? I half suspect that’s part of it. There are no young children in my extended family with whom I share Christmas day and the ‘magic of Christmas’ (or so it is called) is consequently hard to find. The innocence of children and the delight they take in simple things, their unquestioning belief and wonderment in fairytales, their ability to live in that moment and operate purely on instinct, those things are all missing. There is no pretence from a child, delightfully so, for I find the falsehoods and pretences of adult life hard to navigate. My youth is sufficiently behind me now that I don’t leap out of bed at 6am anymore and run excitedly to the tree, and there are no little voices and tiny pattering feet dragging me thither either. Yes, in this sense then, there is something missing. But I don’t think this is what’s rattling me.
Is is something in excess? If I think back to what stands out from the last few weeks, it is surely excess. An excess of food, bigger, richer meals, extra treats, double helpings, chocolates and sweets and marzipan fruits. An excess of jobs to be done, parties to be attended, rushing about trying to cram everything in to an already overloaded life. An excess of spending, trying to pick out just the right gift, as though a person’s worth is somehow linked to the monetary value of the presents we choose for them. Gifts often bought just for the sake of it, fuelling a vast and uncontrolled economy of waste and greed and unrealised environmental harm. It’s all too much, overwhelmingly so. Yes, that’s certainly a part of it.
As I write this on Christmas Eve 2018 I can’t help but reflect on what kind of a year 2018 has been. It has been a year of awakening for me. I’ve opened my eyes to a lot of things I’ve simply never noticed or informed myself about before. In doing so I’ve become painstakingly aware of what this collective lack-of-awareness is doing to our planet. As a species we seem to be sleepwalking into ecological disaster without a care, too busy worrying about silly little things, the nitty gritty that doesn’t matter. The does-my-bum-look-big-in-this kind of stupid kind of questions.
So as the dying days of 2018 draw near and I stare into the abruptly approaching face of 2019 I am left to wonder what kind of year I want it to be? What sort of life I want to lead? What impact do I want to have? To be sure, these are big questions, and I would like to consider myself too young for a mid-life crisis! But they are important. I have been in the habit of keeping a book of ‘goals’ for many years now, and each New Year I head up a new page and boldly mark the page with my new short, medium and long term aims. I usually include some professional goals, some related to my ‘other’ self (the avid allotment gardener), thoughts about what direction I want to take my blog in. This year I am going to include a new section, and think about what kind of person I want to be and what impact I want to have on the world.
So with this in mind and newly buoyed by the prospect of taking some positive steps forward over the coming months, I am left to wonder what kind of Christmas next Christmas might be. Will it be another heady swirl of commercialism and excess? There’s only one thing I want to say to that.