For all the pressure, Christmas, like life, is still worth celebrating

Ian Bushnell 3 December 2020
Christmas tree decorations

Christmas is more than baubles but they sure catch the eye. Photo: File.

It’s that time of the year and I feel caught between the full commercial, gluttonous catastrophe and the pared-back, let’s just keep it basic get-together.

I’ve spent my fair share of Christmases in the kitchen, so I get it when people say they want to take then pressure off.

I’ve also battled through hours of wrapping-strewn present-giving on Christmas morning that inevitably pushed lunch back to afternoon-tea time.

And yes, the commercial overload that begins as soon as winter is behind us, including the relentless supermarket ads that always involve a mythical old gent and a bunch of reindeer, can be soul-destroying.

Not to mention the mind-numbing store Christmas playlist that is on permanent rotation.

I understand the perilous present buying process and the blowback if you get it wrong, as well as the over-the-top one-upmanship that has little to do with actual giving.

And of course, this whole Christmas thing is a relatively recent phenomenon in the Christian calendar.

So when people starting talking about less pressure, no gifts or let’s just have a barbecue and a few salads instead of the full production, or, we’ll come over on Boxing Day, I can see where they’re coming from.

But, and you knew this was coming, it is so life-denying, especially in a year that started with the bushfire apocalypse, morphed into the COVID-19 crisis and is ending with cautious relief that better times may be ahead.

In short, it’s time to give thanks, celebrate, and for loved ones kept apart to come together.

Even without that rationale, all cultures have their festivals and high points to mark auspicious events, adding colour to what might otherwise be a grey existence.

We have always celebrated birthdays, recognising and acknowledging the gift of life and the unique existence of friends and family members.

These are moments of meaning not just excuses for a party, although that’s always an option.

Without punctuating our lives with these high points, we risk a joyless life of little expectations where one day becomes much the same as the next.

Life isn’t a Hallmark card but downgrading Christmas will almost inevitably end in disappointment and regret.

Most worthwhile things involve effort, and Christmas is no different.

So if you are not going to try you may as well not bother.

It doesn’t have to be overkill but a few special thoughts, gift ideas and menu items will make for a memorable day, and sharing the load will make it easier.

I want to give and receive a gift, I want to inhale the fragrance of pine trees, I want to taste some bubbles and something I don’t experience every day.

I want to believe that love really is all around us and that the angels do sing Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

And it’s amazing what a bit of tinsel can do to brighten your life.

So suck it up grinches, make a list and get to work. And like life, turn up. Just remember the right day.

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