Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas: What does it mean to you?

Christmas is known the world over as the ''the season of goodwill''. It is a time of year that many people hold dear in the hearts, it's a time for family, it's a time for giving thanks and it's a time for generosity.
That being said it can also be a desperate and lonely time for many people. For those without families, for those who have lost loved ones, or for those without homes among many other things, Christmas can be the most painful time of the year. This particular post isn't aimed at making you feel guilty, I'm merely trying to remind myself to be incredibly thankful for what I have. It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the corporate Christmas spectacle we are surrounded in, and even easier to forget the moral compass and beliefs that underpin to many what Christmas actually stands for.

I asked a colleague at work before Christmas what he was doing over the holiday period, fully expecting a stereotypical answer of 'seeing family' or 'eating too much'. Quite the opposite he turned to me and said he had organised to work in a shelter and soup kitchen, and that it was something he had made a habit of doing. Now I'm not for a minute insinuating that everyone should or will go out and do something along these lines over the holiday period, but it did motivate me to do something similar, if not at Christmas then at some point soon. It was warming to find that people of my age could still be selfless and compassionate, as lets face it, our generation gets a lot of stick!

It could be argued that Christmas has lost it's meaning to many people, it's religious origin has now evolved into a completely different being, driven forwards through advertising from large corporations encouraging increased expenditure over the holiday period. To many it has become almost tacky. One of the kids at the school I worked at asked me before we broke up for Christmas if I told my children (I am not a father by the way) that Santa didn't exist. Ignoring the fact that the kids at school think I'm about 15-20 years older than I am, probably with grandchildren, let alone children, it was a question I found particularly interesting. I asked why I would tell 'my children' such a thing, and the child retorted by saying 'Sir what's the point of not telling him, your son or daughter will find out in a few years anyway!' To be fair to him, it's a point well made but in my opinion he's missing the crux, which is to a child Christmas is the most magical time of the year, full of mystery and wonder. There's enough in the real world to deal with that I'm sure all of us would jump at the chance to be thrown back into the world of elves, Santa Claus and Rudolph just one more time. That innocence is what makes the Christmas period so beautiful. 

The spirit and compassion that it brings out of so many people, such as my work colleague, is what makes it so special to anyone over the age of 12. I guess the point of this blog was to see past the shop windows and the glossy TV adverts, to what Christmas really means to me. It's this idea of goodwill and of giving, the spirit of humanity and companionship that makes it so special. As a Londoner I can truly say the city changes at Christmas, people are more friendly, generous and happy. 

No matter what companies do, they can't shatter the ideals and meaning of Christmas, we'll just have to start looking a bit harder for the meaning of the festive season to each one of us, how we can act upon it, and for us to be thankful for what we have.

A belated Merry Christmas!

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