Look closely enough and you’ll find Christmas cards and decorations sparkling although this early surely they’re last year’s leftovers having been dusted off and displayed in anticipation. Anyone with any sense would have bought the same tinsel and baubles last year when they were on sale and stuffed them into a box until the never ending creep of preparations necessitated bringing them out in autumn.
Having said that, we buy one new tree decoration each year, usually from our travels and give unusual decorations we find along the way as gifts to family and friends.Being privileged to travel the world and live in incredible places we bear witness to the gradual relegation of Merry Christmas to the trash heap, replaced with Happy Holidays plastered over cards and becoming the greeting of choice? People celebrate religious festivals the world over and have done for centuries. Celebrate if you like. Don’t if you don’t.
Allow others their freedom and choice as you would expect to be allowed yours. We have lived all over Asia and while many of these countries do not celebrate Christmas, the effort shops, malls and local councils have made to make those who do feel welcome – Christmas trees, streetlights and festive music – is appreciated. Perhaps they are more inclusive and tolerant then many western countries, where lessons could be learnt?
For us every ‘holiday’ is about bringing family together. Living in our expat bubble at times, our family has grown to include friends we have met along the way. Because of work commitments and distance sometimes these are the family that come together at times of celebration. This year and every year, although we may miss some family gatherings, Christmas will be celebrated with our own families. As the years pass and parents, nephews, nieces, siblings get older we have made this commitment.
As a child, I remember hanging up my stocking and delighting with the assortment of treats that Santa had left in the morning. Chocolates, fruit, small toys … following clues on a treasure hunt to find treasures hidden throughout the house. Enjoying the experience as well as the anticipation to see if Santa had read our notes. This year amongst the ever increasing commercialism we’re bringing it back to basics. While the kids get treated and spoilt (it is Christmas after all) the adults have a limit on spending for each other. It’s fun hunting down gifts within the budget. Alter all, it’s the thought that counts?
There is no denying the pleasure of witnessing the sparkle in children’s eyes as they open presents on Christmas morning. This year we’ll witness that joy on the faces of a 1 year old niece and parents 86 years young.