The best thing about this time of year for me is connecting: with people now, but also memories of Christmases past and people far away or gone, candles, old films and music . When I decorate the tree I seem to go back to my childhood, and some of the decorations do too! My tree is usually not a tree but a few evergreen branches brought in and decked out in the ancient tradition of protecting and celebrating the ‘woodland spirits’ (or, in other words, nature) in the depths of winter. This year it is a small tree which can be planted in the New Year.
The worst aspect for me is the commercialism: I warn my grandchildren about the ads which suggest that mass produced pieces of moulded plastic will be magical – only to disappoint. Many children get buried in the piles of new toys showered on them, often by adults who can ill afford it. They quickly get ‘present fatigue’ – just looking for the next one to open. I read of an Australian Mum who has decided not to buy her children presents this year but give donations to charities instead. I did this one year with the older grandchildren, and they do understand from an early age about fairness and sharing with others. Surely, small wrapped toys and books in a ‘stocking’ make the event magical without going OTT?