13 days until Christmas Day and exactly eight more days, or in teacher speak ‘get-ups’, until the 20th December arrives and the students race out of the school gates with their coats rebelliously on in the school building and as much cheer in their goodbyes as Ebenezer Scrooge. He was a mean, mean man and they, like I, are unfazed by the festivities around them.
Although ironically there’s a grand but sadly unembellished tree erected in the main foyer of my school, the festive morale among students and staff reaches nowhere as high as our ceiling-skimming conifer. In fact, between my commute from home to work, if it wasn’t for the bustle of the German Market and decorations draped across the tops of our heads, Christmas would come and go and I’d wake up on Boxing Day none the wiser.
By now you might have guessed that I’m not an enthusiast of this time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the romanticism of it all and admiring twinkle lights through people’s windows but I’ve woken up and grown up to describe Christmas for what it really is: ridiculously commercialised, a period of gluttony my stomach is no longer adept to breakdown and a holiday of depreciating value where my finances are concerned.
I’ve removed the conditioned obligation to exchange gifts and the disappointment at the low number of them I’d received since adolescence. (You’re now all forgiven). Food is cheap so naturally you’re inclined to buy and eat more, but I’d happily eat beans on toast for Christmas dinner. Though I haven’t had to yet, the revered turkey dinner stopped being important years ago. While I love food just as much as you reading, is the measure of a great Christmas what/ how much you consume or who’s around the table/ TV when you do so? Dining in with mum is perfectly fine but when two people regularly dine together anyway, why the emphasis on this one day? It just doesn’t seem necessary or logical.
Questioning why I’d choose to spend time following the traditions of a religion I don’t even practice was the crucial afterthought which finally made me think ‘sod this’. Gone are the expectations of a huge family dinner; paper crackers being pulled between cousins across the table and laughing at the grown folks who overestimated how much whisky and white rum they could drink – I’m too much of a curious person to think that’s the only experience of Christmas I can expect to have. Time to come up with a slight alternative so I thought of volunteering.
When I initially had this idea, one of many, I wanted to include Christmas Day BUT there’s a little lady at home who’s great for banter and whose company I enjoy when she’s in a good mood so that day, I will reserve for her. Ideally I’d like to spend 3-5 days in a hospice, women’s crisis centre, foster home, homeless shelter and the like; giving part of my time to people unrelated to me.
Let me assert that Mother Teresa I am not. I certainly don’t want to appear self-righteous, it’s all part of an educational process to broaden my ideas of what life is and isn’t, while making more effective use of my time. So if you work on behalf of a charity who’d appreciate an extra willing hand or know of some local projects that I could contact asap, please make contact with me or leave a comment at the end of this post.
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