Monday, 23 October 2017

Don't tell me…

There's something you'd be wise not to say to me. I can bite my tongue if necessary, but would struggle to find an empathetic response.

It starts in September and is at fever pitch around now. It's the one about Christmas being over-commercialised.  

Of course it is. Of course it's sad that some people spend too much money and spend the next year paying it back. Of course it's obscene that we live in a world where some children's presents would fill a small garage and the next child is praying for a home. Of course we don't need the adverts which cost millions and oh, for the stores to give that money to charity instead. We don't need the shops to be selling stocking fillers before the clocks go back and to be buying each other duplicates of things we don’t need.

But we don’t have to subscribe to it.

We can just be together. That's still Christmas. In fact, go to church, have a special meal together because we all have the day off, raise a glass to absent friends (and to the wonderful people who do have to work on Christmas Day - the mid-wife, nurse and GP in my family to name but a few) and hug and laugh and play games and maybe give the odd well-chosen present and you know, all of a sudden, Christmas isn't so very different to how it used to be.

But if we choose not to spend Christmas with family and friends because it's over-commercialised, not to give even the smallest gift because it's got out of hand, and if we choose not to link arms around the piano, crooning alongside as a talented person bashes out Silent Night, simply because Christmas isn't what it used to be, then we should be dragged forthwith onto the set of A Christmas Carol.

Whilst I absolutely understand that for those who have lost people, Christmas can be so terribly difficult and my heart goes out to them, as far as abstaining because it's not what it used to be, I've always thought like this and the past few years have hammered it home.

Christmas 2013 and the hubby and I were waiting for the results which were to come on 27 December following my earlier tests for breast cancer. Apart from the two sets of parents, no one else knew we were waiting. It just felt the right thing to do. A couple of things had been said during the tests and in hindsight, it was blooming obvious the experts were worried but I think I probably didn't want to hear it at that time, that time being five days before Christmas.

I remember Christmas day vividly, our family all around, everyone happy, just doing their thing. It wasn't any different to any other year really: the hubby and the daughters begging me to exchange the traditional carols for some 'proper' music, secretly wondering if we might manage Christmas lunch before 5pm, some openly wondering if we might forego the walk, but all keen to play games and there were no phones in sight.  And I remember thinking, I'm so grateful for the 45 years I've had because I've had adventures and work I've always enjoyed, some achievements and enduring friendships and loads and loads of laughter but most of all, I love and am loved and that's all we need, and all we can ask, really. I decided this is what I would focus on if the news was bad - which it was.

I have a smile to myself every Christmas now about that, think yep, still here, still fortunate, still loving life. And you know, getting the diagnosis over Christmas time means I love Christmas even more than I did before :)

Today? Well, it's October half term in our house and for the first time EVER, not only am I saying I'm going to bake my Christmas cake tomorrow, it's been given its own special time slot, which means it might just happen. Wish me luck…

* Update *

*Update: I'd hate you to think I don't keep my word - and no, I never do the baking paper correctly but it hasn't proved a problem yet... Oh, and the baby one? Well, that's for deliciously cold November nights 😏* 


  1. Jackie you're so right as ever! I've always said you can choose to celebrate something or you can choose to not! And i've always said why would you do the latter! Here , Here to Christmas, Birthdays and Family, Friends and Life!

    1. Brilliant! You've said it all so much more succinctly ;)

  2. Absolutely correct and in fact you have inspired me so much that I have just gone out and bought all my Christmas cards! Of course Christmas is not like it was, children grow up, loved ones are no longer here, calamities happen but what remains is lots of love (and a fair bit of fun and magic).

    1. Such a lovely comment, thank you. And I feel quite proud of inspiring you to buy your cards ;)


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