So, some might have predicted that I would do a rant about Christmas and how commercial it has become. How the ads start in October and it is all about buying the latest and most expensive toy, rather than what it is really about – which is either/and/or spending time with friends and family and celebrating traditions/religious beliefs. Although I could have done such a rant, Christmas is not a time for ranting. In fact, it is one of my favourite times of year – despite the crowds at the malls and the pressure to find the perfect present for the more discerning members of my whanau (you know who you are…). And there are particular things about Christmas that hold a special place in my heart. So I am going to talk about those instead! In no particular order:
Love Actually: I could do a whole blog on the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to Christmas movies but – for me anyway – this is the best on offer. I have a tradition now where I must watch it in the week leading up to Christmas, generally while wrapping presents. I know it is cheesier than a Quattro Fromaggio pizza and has more sugar than a cup full of regular Coke. But I love that it unabashedly wears its heart on its sleeve. Highlights for me are many, but I never fail to cry when the little boy finally gets a kiss from the girl of his dreams, and also when Andrew Lincoln tells the unavailable Keira Knightley how he feels, and then moves on with his life. And what a cast! Rickman, Thompson, Firth, Grant, Neeson, Atkinson. And of course London at Christmas. Never fails to put me in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas Mass: Although I was a regular church goer as a child and into my teens, now Christmas is the only time where I generally see the inside of a church (aside for the odd wedding and christening). Christmas never really feels like Christmas for me unless I have gone to mass at some point. In recent years I have established a tradition with the family of my lovely friend Kathryn, where we go to the children’s mass at St Benedict’s in the city on Christmas Eve. It is a kid focused ceremony, and there is always an acted out nativity play, which never fails to provide solid entertainment value (kids in costume with animals and generally a live baby??? Hollywood gold I tell you). Although I always feel a little bit hypocritical attending as a very intentionally lapsed Catholic, for me it has strong traditional and sentimental value and going to mass will always be part of my Christmas.
Christmas Carols: Although I don’t have a CD of Christmas carols, and although I complain as much as the next person when I start hearing them being played in stores, give me a chance to sing along and I am there. Christmas in the Park usually provides the best opportunity for this – though mass is obviously good for it too. Although the traditional favourites – O Come all Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and The First Noel – always make my tear ducts have wee issues, my all-time favourite Christmas song has to be Snoopy’s Christmas. It is always a highlight at Christmas in the Park, and I always turn it up loud if I catch it on the radio. In fact, off I go to download it on Itunes now…
Christmas ham sandwiches: there is something very special about Christmas ham, and I would argue it actually comes into its own from Boxing Day onwards. I eat ham all year round but Christmas ham is just SO much better. I think it is because it is generally on the bone and you get to carve off big chunks of it, rather than just the wafer thin slices you get the rest of the year. But for at least a week after Christmas I love nothing more than finding some fresh crusty bread, slathering on some marg, and adding a chunk of ham. Yum. Nothing more for me – I don’t need any flashy pants Dijon mustard or brie, I am happy with just bread and meat. It’s the simple things, what can I say.
Christmas stockings: Yes, I know I am 35 and not 5, but for me the most exciting part of Christmas is still discovering a chocker full Christmas stocking on Christmas morning. As a kid, they used to hang on our bed heads, and I remember numerous times waking up in the middle of the night to reach up and check if it had been filled yet. And oh the joy when it was! I would poke and prod and try and determine what sugary goodness lay within! It didn’t matter if it was a slightly munted Moro bar, a dented apple and a few random bits and pieces from the $2 shop, it was still awesomely wonderful. To this day I continue the tradition if I stay with my Dad on Christmas – though we have to set very strict rules for him with regards to stocking stuffers, or else we would risk getting expired chocolate from his Christmas stocking three years ago which he had been hoarding in his cupboard (yes #thatreallyhappened).
So there you go. My favourite Christmas things. Obviously I have missed the most significant one, but it is the one that lies underneath all of the above. It is friends and family. Christmas is the time when we can relax and enjoy each other’s company. Celebrate the year than has past and survey the year ahead. Enjoy the chaos and craziness that family events always bring. And be grateful for what we have and who we have. I know I am. So, don’t get too upset about the commercialism and shopping madness. Just relax. Tis the season to be jolly after all. And no one knows that better than a Rodger 😉