That time of year thou mayst in me behold

Okay so Shakespeare was referring to advanced age in this sonnet, but in this post, I’m referring to Christmas, and to the aspects of Christmas to which I find myself irresistibly attracted when I have a chance to enjoy them. I’m wearing little Christmas tree earrings today and have worn a splash of red every day for the past week or so. There’s a lovely scent of fruit, cinnamon and cloves wafting from my kitchen as my two basin plum puddings happily boil away on the stove. Whilst I could do without the pubescent girls at the shopping centre, barking Christmas carols about holy signs, whilst wearing crop tops and uber-mini skirts that are probably better suited to street walking, the more traditional carols from children’s choirs, or even the old Sinatra and Bing Crosby songs do provide a touch of class.

I really do love Christmas, and whilst this year will hold a degree of sadness, because I won’t be spending it with my Mum & brother, I do intend to enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas this year on my own here in Brisbane. So you will have to excuse me if you are an anti-Christmas type. I do intend to enjoy every moment of my Christmas traditions.

Having said that, I’d like to point out here, that the fact that it’s called “Christmas” doesn’t mean I actually am terribly religious. Indeed, I find it highly amusing when Christians talk about the “true meaning” of Christmas. Christmas, in my humble opinion, is just the current tag given to a time of year that across dozens of religions and cultural groups, holds special meaning. And our current traditions – from the Christmas tree, to kissing under the mistletoe, to decorations and gifts, and to the Christmas feast itself – are all MUCH older and much more meaningful than anything that happened to have occurred a couple of thousand years ago.

In the northern hemisphere, the mid-winter festival (Yuletide), Saturnalia and several other cultural festivals were celebrated to denote the ending of one year of agrarian production, and the beginning of a new year. Primarily because of the bitter weather, families and friends came together to give thanks for the harvest, and in the spirit of peace and reflection for the year ahead. Now, thousands of years later, we have mostly-forgotten memories of symbols and traditions that somehow keep reappearing, and that we still observe and enjoy. Some are subsumed by other religious holidays, some survive in spite of any rational reason for their survival.

Perhaps as a race, we have a degree of sameness that is just charmed by the magic of a vividly lit pine tree, nestling in a corner of our homes, and whispering secrets of gifts, tantalisingly bright at its base. Or, perhaps there is a higher reason for the survival of these traditions, beyond our understanding. Either way, I just love the fact that they do survive, and I plan to observe and reflect on these traditions as I spend a very quiet and very personal Christmas here in sunny Brisbane.

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all.

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