I can recall watching Christmas movies - black and white versions of 'A Christmas Carol' followed mostly by some rather creative and historically questionable depictions of how the USA won WWII single handed (never any mention of allies or the fact that they didn't see fit to join in until almost haf time) and occasionally 'The Battle of Britain', which was still a recent film in those days. I remember my parents being at their best and in their best mood of the entire year for a few days, a time when they cast aside their worldly worries and allowed themselves to enjoy what they loved the most; their family.
As kids we had amazing Christmas times. Our family was never fortunate enough to have money to spare, but at Christmas time we felt like princes and princesses - the sheer quantity of presents was amazing, and our humble surroundings seemed - with hindsight - to have enhanced our appreciation of everything we received. And such presents! We would find a pillowcase fiull of goodies at the foot of our beds on Christmas morning; these we opened feverishly to discover that Santa had known just what we wanted - and more! Perhaps our needs and wants were different in thise days, but I cannot remember ever feeling that Santa had missed anything. I can only remember a sense of wonder and intense excitement. For that alone, I can never thank my parents enough.
Once the chore of going to church was out of the way (I mean fancy Jesus getting in the way of a good celebration of his birthday - I could never see that he would have wanted that), it was back home for a late-ish breakfast around the big table (itself an amazing treat) and the opening of MORE presents from under the Christmas tree.
The rest of the day - and holiday period in general - was spent gorging ourselves on fantastic food, wonderful gifts and love. They were magical times; halcyon days. My childhood Christmases were simply perfect.
As a young adult I confess that I lost my Christmas way - it ceased to have the same magic, it lost its meaning and became something to become stressed about rather than enjoy. At one point I wondered whether I would ever enjoy Christmas again but then...
...As soon as children arrived in my life, Christmas - now devoid of the religious aspect - became something once again to enjoy; once more had purpose and regained its joy. It became about other people.
Now, for me the joy of Christmas is no longer connected with receiving gifts - now it's about giving, it is about making others happy, it is about being surrounded by my loved ones.
Christmas time is a time for me to reflect upon the things in life which matter more than anything else. I buy presents for the people I love because I enjoy the anticipation and then the enjoyment upon their faces. I love making people happy, and Christmas is a time when everyone I know is up for being happy - it's a perfect fit. Christmas time is a wonderful time of year when I can pause, look around me and appreciate what an amazingly fortunate man I am. For that reason alone I shall continue to keep Christmas - I just wish I had the resources to provide the same gifts as the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge felt moved and able to do.
Merry Christmas everybody, whether or not for you the season is about religious observance; I wish you all a happy, safe and joyful Christmas time and the opportunity to appreciate all - even the tiny stuff - in life that is good.