There are some who would call me the Grinch. To a certain degree, this is true. The commercialism, the happy facades, the endless pressure to be and feel a certain way can lead to a distinct feeling of drudgery of the soul.
But before I clothe myself in black and shuffle down the road muttering “Bah, humbug”, allow me to assure you there are things I love about Christmas too.
Things I hate
1. Christmas music
Wherever you go you hear the same songs on repeat. All of them, without fail, feature the sound of jingle bells and the talents of some fabulous singer who has sold their soul for the monetary equivalent of a candy cane.
Christmas music per se is not so bad. It is the repetition that gets to me. It would be less painful if the shops only played endless Pentatonix playlists in December. But no, we are regaled with tinsel tunes for three months leading up to the big day. It gets old.
2. Christmas ads
All of them are treacly. I have a limited tolerance for TV treacle. After the fiftieth sugar-filled ad about yet another child bringing the festive cheer, I have had my metaphorical fill.
And that is another thing. Why do all Christmas ads centre on children? Even the well-executed ones are a bit much for this childless soul to bear. Christmas without children can be difficult enough without the constant virtual reminders, thank you very much.
It is a bit much for this childless soul to bear.
For the record, I love shopping. I really do. It is the crowds I cannot stand. Everywhere you go at Christmas time there are crowds. There is no getting away from it. Unfortunately, crowds happen to exacerbate some elements of my illness. And it can be very tiring.
Ok, enough of the hate rant. Time for some love.
Things I love
Yes, I know I just said I hate it. Let’s say I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. Especially at this time of year.
The joy of shopping speaks for itself. The idea of poking around stores, searching for that ideal present, then pouncing upon it and marching it victoriously to the checkout is quite rapturous. The cherry on top for me is the idea of giving this idyllic gift to the person I love. That makes it special.
The cherry on top is giving this idyllic gift to the person I love.
It is not just the image of double-smoked ham with a side of home-made fruit chutney that makes my mouth water. It is not only the endless snacks and dips and nuts and olives (I am nuts about olives) that fills me with hangry anticipation. It is not just the smell of pudding that captivates me.
It is the notion of Christmas being some kind of endless buffet, where you can eat as much as you want of whatever you want, whenever you want, that lifts my soul with sensory satisfaction. There is no other time of year when you can just graze all day. And I love it.
This one may seem a little obvious but I know many people will actually think about Jesus this Christmas. I love the notion of Jesus, the love of my life, being in everyone else’s thoughts at this time.
I love the notion of Jesus being in everyone else’s thoughts at this time.
I love the way people go to church to sing about him. I love the way carols lead us to worship him (and I am not a huge fan of carols either). And I love the simple truth that God loved us so relentlessly that he came to earth as a child, just to give him a shot at saving us.
As far as Christmas highlights go, that has to be the best thing of all.
What are you looking forward to this Christmas? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.