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Autumn is in full swing and even as the shops have had shelves full of plastic pumpkins, spiders and webs, witchly cakes and boxes of sweets for Trick or Treats at the door, our thoughts are being dragged towards Christmas.

The plastic ‘tins’ of Cadburys Roses, Miniature Heroes (my favourites), Quality Street and Celebrations magically appeared in their mountains before the end of the summer holidays. Christmas cards, wrapping paper, labels, decorations, lights and artificial trees are now lining the aisles in the supermarkets, not to mention a whole aisle dedicated to other chocolates, biscuits and other goodies that seem to be necessary to the enjoyment of that winter holiday season. All conspire to pull us unwillingly towards that time of excess and spending lots of money – they hope.

Whilst I admit that I have bought a tin of Heroes and one of Quality Street and stashed them away (sshh, don’t tell anyone!), I am reluctant to get into the full swing just yet.

This morning my hubby said his usual piece, that he wants all the presents bought by the beginning of December (who’s he trying to kid, it’s never happened in the 31 years we’ve been married!) and I told him that I’ve already bought some presents (well, I have!).

When we had all our children at home, I would buy ‘stocking’ gifts all the year round if I found them. They would come from all sorts of places – from seaside holiday shops, markets, craft fairs, school fairs, anywhere I found unusual and interesting small things. I loved it, it was my favourite thing about Christmas and I not only enjoyed finding the things, I enjoyed seeing their faces as they unwrapped all the small gifts packed into their stockings on Christmas morning. It was worth all the searching and marathon wrapping sessions. When I only had two children, the wrapping could take place after they had gone to bed on Christmas Eve but as our family grew larger, it was impossible to do it all in one evening. Then they had ‘main’ presents in the afternoon.

Now my family has largely flown the nest, except for our youngest daughter, and have nests of their own, I no longer have stockings to fill, no longer have to make the magic work for my family the way my mum did for us when I was a child.

My husband hates Christmas (bah humbug) because he hates all the commercialism and disapproves of Christmas trees and decorations. I, too, hate the commercialism but I like all the other things and I have stood firm for years in my love of this special time in which the Christian world celebrates the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Now that I no longer have to create the magic for my children, I am even more free to rejoice in the greatest magic of all; that of knowing that I can be partaker of that Heavenly Gift of Eternal Life that is offered to all mankind if they believe in the Christ and follow him. And that celebration that comes around every year, which is often spoiled by the commercialism and the fact that too many people spend too much money which they haven’t got and indulge too deeply into the spirit that comes from a bottle, is really a simple affair, that of being reminded of the humble beginnings of the greatest man who ever lived.

I am not ashamed that I believe in Him and I will always celebrate Christmas, not a ‘winter holiday’. So there.

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