Saturday, 8 December 2012

2 Sides to Christmas

It's that time of the year again. Seasonal happiness for some and madness for others. Shops will be packed with people buying gifts for each other while the retail bosses rub their hands in delight. The sound of ker-ching will be a welcoming sign to bankers as people max-out their credit cards only to have to pay it back with interest. For the next few weeks food and drink will be excessive and so will the waste, work colleagues will be busy arranging the office parties that will provide many with regrets come January. 

There are always 2 sides to Christmas. 

Families will welcome each other with loving kisses and gifts only for hours to pass by when they are at each others throat, reminiscing on the past faults brought to light by the evening's alcohol. New romantic relationships are always formed at this time of the year only to be soured as the season to be jolly comes to an end. At last the homeless will have a place to get out of the cold, eat, drink, get clean clothes, a hair cut and a little medical help. But for them, the season to be jolly is just a temporary fix until they are back on the streets. 

I hope I'm not dampening anyone's spirit here but I'm just trying to point out that there are 2 sides to Christmas and at times throughout my life I've been on both sides of the fence. I have not celebrated Christmas for quite some time now as the true meaning behind it has somewhat changed and so has the people.  For me, it's a time for reflection, a time to think about the future and what the year ahead brings. A time to pull out all the 'weeds' of the past that destroyed my beautiful garden and think about what I'm going to be planting for next year. 


If you are celebrating this year, why not have a sense of community? Invite a neighbour round for a seasonal drink or pop round and bring them a cake, especially if they are elderly, lonely or vulnerable. We have suffered such a hard year of austerity, and just wishing someone a Happy Christmas, seasonal greetings or sending a card may brighten up their day. 

Christmas is a time when we are expected to be happy, but for a lot of people it's the worse time of the year. Be honest with me, do you really enjoy Christmas?
What are your best and worst Christmas memories?
What will you be doing this Christmas, even if you don't celebrate it?

I would love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

46 comments:

  1. Yep I love Christmas, I suppose the best Christmas' would've been when I was younger and still believed in Santa Claus (the magic of coming downstairs to find all those presents under the tree with my brother and sister). I would still love Christmas even if there weren't any gifts, in fact I would be more upset if someone used their credit card to get me a gift than if they didn't get me a gift at all (people shouldn't put themselves in debt if they can help it - my accounts head talking there). I like the time off work to spend with family eating a Christmas dinner, playing games and watching a few things on TV together. This year for the Christmas period I'm house and pet sitting for some family members but I shall be coming to my immediate families for a chunk of Christmas day. The worst Christmas memory is brought about every year by Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas' song which relates to heartache for me which in turn leads to memories of frustration and temporarily screws me over. My families household do not allow for arguing so my brother, sister and I have been brought up learning that arguing is not the way to go about things (I've never seen my mum and dad argue) - we either decide it's not worth getting annoyed about and control ourselves until we're not angry about it anymore or we talk about the problem (without the shouting etc). All in all I'm looking forward to Christmas this year :-)

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    1. Thanks Jamie P, most people of my age always remember the fantasy of father Christmas leaving them loads of presents on Christmas morning, so I know what you mean.
      I quite admire the fact that you were brought up not to argue but rather talk about issues. This is a great skill to learn from childhood up, so thumbs up to your parents for instilling this in you.

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  2. I’ve never liked Christmas as an adult, and here in Hong Kong it’s nothing more than a commercial opportunity. However, the upside of living among Chinese people in a rural environment is that it is possible not to notice that Christmas is actually happening.

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    1. Maybe it's a good thing that you don't like Christmas then, otherwise you'd be living in a place where the only person who knew it was happening was your immediate family. Thanks Dennis.

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  3. There are aspects of Christmas that I really enjoy, namely the extra time with my adult children, the festive lights glowing from everyone's houses, and the traditional good food. The problem with this holiday seems to arise from expectations and old resentments that people are so attached to. No amount of Christmas cheer will magically transform fear and loathing into kindness and compassion. This year, I'll be spending Christmas Eve and morning with my sons and husband...I am making cassoulet and plum pudding! The weekend before Christmas, all of my siblings will be gathering at my mom's house for the first time in a decade, and not all of us are on good terms. Hopefully, there will be a minimum of drama. Wish me luck!

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    1. Oh, I do wish you the best with the family gathering. I'm hoping that since you all haven't met up for quite some time, people will just let the past be the past, and focus on making this Christmas the best for everyone. Cassoulet is really nice, and I know you know how to cook. Think of me whist you indulge Helena.

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  4. Nice post! I agree with you on so many levels. We aim, work toward, build up this one 24 period. Somewhere along the way, we';ve lost the true meaning of this day.
    My favorite Chistmases were when I believed there was a Santa Claus, and/or when I son was younger, celebrating his joy!

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    1. Yes, definetly the thought of someone leaving your loads of gifts for Christmas is the best. It's a shame we all grew up to know the truth about Santa. Thanks Nell.

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  5. I totally agree with you on that, there are two sides. For me there's how I imagine Christmas and then how it always ends up to be.
    I have always loved Christmas, at least they way it should be. I love the idea of it, families and loved ones coming together, spreading joy, all the love, etc. I still love that.
    Unfortunately, that's never what reality looks like. Before last year I was still living with my family, so I always spend it with them and last year I came home for Christmas (I call it home so that people know what I mean because that's how students usually call it, but it's not really home for me anymore).
    Christmas there is always just a lot of arguing and fighting, accusing others, no peace at all. To be honest, I don't like visiting my family, whether Christmas or not. But all the other students go home to their families for the holidays, so I would be completely alone here at Christmas and I don't like that either. So I'm not sure what to do this year. But I have to study and write a paper over the holidays, so I'm going to be pretty busy anyway.
    I guess my best Christmas will be when I have my own family to spend it with, or at least partner.
    I don't know about my worst Christmas, maybe the one when my father moved out spontaneously without even telling me and without saying goodbye or anything, but that sounds worse than it is because actually I get along with him better than with my mother.

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    1. As you can see from the comments, having a partner or family doesn't mean Christmas will be great. It takes every member of the family to make a concerted effort to make this time of the year a loving, happy, entertaining and memorable one for all the right reasons.
      I'm sure that due to your upbringing (abuse etc) you will make every effort when you have your own family to make sure that you have good times. Thanks for your comment Kleopatra.

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  6. I've always like what Christmas was supposed to be about, family and friends, and enjoying whats really good in life. When I moved out of my parents and lived on my own, Christmas became a symbol for the things that were missing in my lonely life. I started using my "New Years Resolution" to say that I was going to celebrate Christmas this coming season.

    Finally I had to give that up as well, because when I started celebrating Christmas it was with poor choices of girl friends, and it was never truly right. The first Christmas I enjoyed in over a decade happened when I moved back in with my parents after my 'failure' at moving away. It was special because my cat, Ghost (who was my best friend for that decade) came out of my room, and joined the family. It was a very special moment.

    The next Christmas I enjoyed, because I was with my Aunt, and her family. I got to spend it with that side of the family, a family that I hardly knew and was enjoying getting to know. I knew at that moment, as we celebrated being a family, that my life was on the right track.

    Now, here in Oklahoma, with my fiance, I've found again, the symbol of family being celebrated. Last year we hung an ornament on the tree that said, "Our First Christmas" and we had put our picture in it. Even though Lisa loves to shop on Black Friday and buy WAY too much stuff for her daughter, there's a beautiful sense of family that has renewed again this year.

    In the end, that's what Christmas means to me. Time with my family, knowing that the future is bright and warm, as the air outside sinks into cold darkness.

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    1. A very touching comment Dan, and thanks for sharing your personal story here.

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  7. Nothing more to add to your words RumPunch!!... You summarized it to the very point!

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  8. I have my own Christmas post coming up soon. So I don't want to say to much here. But For me it is both the most stressful time of the year, and the most rewarding as well.

    I will say I think you are spot on to challenge people's sense of community spirit. Doing just a small thing for someone else can make a HUGE difference in not only their day, but in their life... And in your own too. And isn't that what the spirit of the season is supposed to be about anyway?

    I think the rest of your questions will probably be answered in my upcoming post. Thanks as always for asking the questions that need to be asked. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your season however you choose to spend it. Happy Holidays RPD!

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    1. Thanks Jon. I did have a good read of your Christmas post and left you a comment there. If anyone would like to have read then please follow this link:
      Happy Holidays

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  9. "Brought to light by the evenings alcohol"....that's so true isn't it? People turn to libation in order to face the relatives, and it backfires every time. I loved your post! Looking forward to the next...

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    1. Thanks Michelle. Forewarned is forearmed as they say. Alcohol has usually got a part to play in loosening the tongue at such events, ha ha ha.

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  10. You have done excellent job of describing Christmas. It is both stressful and happy.

    I always feel grateful and also guilty for our blessings. I think about all the people who are hungry, homeless and have little or no hope for any change.

    This year is our worst as we lost two sons just a little over two weeks ago. Am I or any of our family truly in the mood to celebrate this Christmas? No, we are not. But we are pushing forward and giving it our best.

    We no longer drink so alcohol is no longer a factor and that is a good thing. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired every Christmas morning!

    Thank you for stopping by and visiting. Your congratulations and taking the time to actually leave a comment was and is very much appreciated.

    I'm glad I found you and look forward to your post!

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    1. Please accept my condolences, this is dreadful news. Bereavement turns happy occasions into the exact opposites, and festive events become ordeals to get through rather than enjoy. I've personally experienced this.

      I enjoyed visiting your blog and it was a pleasure to leave a comment to show my appreciation. Thanks Jackie.

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  11. Christmas has fallen victim to a clever marketing campaign. Since when is the season of humility, sacrifice, and light a time for drunken parties, overspending, and stress? I think it is what you make of it - we have cut back drastically on our gift-giving and spending, and are careful to not let the obligations of the season kill the joy it represents. I, too, see 2 faces to this holiday - or even more! But I refuse to allow the celebration of my Saviour become crass and cheap - I cling to what to me is the real meaning, and allow others to make their own choices about it as well!

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    1. You sound like a free thinker Melody. Making your own choices of how to celebrate, rather than getting caught up with the herd. Who knows, someone may be inspired by you to find a way to celebrate that doesn't get them into debt this year. Thanks for your comment Melody.

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  12. I've had a full range of Christmas experiences. These days my parents are geographically removed and I've become estranged from my sister. My boyfriend was able to get off work, but if he hadn't, I'd have spent it alone. I'd have been ok with that, though. More so than being with people who invited me just because I've been "orphaned," lol. As I get older, Christmas is more just an attitude or warmth inside, no matter where I am.

    That said, I'm glad my boyfriend got off for the day.

    Interesting post!

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    1. Perhaps it's down to all those positive experiences you've had in the past that you are able to carry it inside you now as an attitude. The season has come to resonate on its own account with all the positive associations you have built up over the years.

      I suppose that's why it's so important to make sure it's a special time for the sake of children. Those memories will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Thanks June.

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  13. Great post! Very thought provoking, I do agree there are 2 sides to Christmas and while we're celebrating we must also remember that some people are less fortunate than us and not everyone has a merry, happy holiday.

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    1. If I had one major aim for this post, it would be for people to think about those who may not be due to have as good a time as them - and think of something, no matter how small, that they could do to help make it a little better.Thanks Shauntee.

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  14. As always your post is right on spot. I love this time of year, but it also saddens me to think of those who have nothing and all the wee ones who see the hype about Santa and yet have no tree, no toy, not even a bed to sleep in at night. That always bothers me. It's either the best time of year or the worst. I really like you perspective on it--a time for reflection---and your analogy about the weeding is brilliant. Another awesome and thought-provoking post.

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    1. I know what you mean about the little ones, but do you know what studies have shown matters most to them? T.I.M.E. The loving attention of adults who take time out of their schedules, worries and stress to play with them, tell them stories and make them laugh and smile. Children are far less materialistic than many adults grow up to be. So a child who is given that gift is richer in many ways than the one whose parent tries to compensate for lack of time by throwing money and expensive gifts at them. Thanks for your comment Menopausal mama.

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  15. When I was a kid, I really LOVE Christmas. The most awaited season of the year! Maybe because of the gifts, toys, festivities etc. But now, it's quite different. Yes, I admit I still love the season. The real meaning of the season however I am aware of that 2 sides of Christmas you are talking about. A part of me feels the sorrow, the grief, the madness... but then a part of me is saying 'always look at the brighter side...'because just like the other seasons, this too shall pass...

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    1. Yes, but it's a shame if we have to regard it as something we wait to pass. Much better if we can find our own way to celebrate and enjoy it, even if that means having to find our own way, outside of what the mainstream does. Thanks Ric.

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  16. I don't celebrate Christmas, never have, so it has no meaning or affect on me. To me every day of the year, every minute of the day, is, in a sense, Christmas, a time for love and joy and communion with other human beings.

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    1. NP you need to spend some time with me for real. I just love your cool, calm, loving persona. At least you never had to experience some of the issues I raised in my post. Thanks NP.

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  17. As usual, you have written a thought-provoking post. I do enjoy Christmas. It is one of my favorite times of the years. Being a Christian, the focal meaning of Christmas Day to me is that it is the day we have chosen to commemorate the birth of Christ, the Savior. God demonstrated His love to the world by giving us His only Son.

    But Christmas is often much busier than I want it to be. Not because of shopping because I do very little of that. But being a preacher, I spend lots of time preparing for and attending special religious gatherings. While people are busy shopping and decorating, I am often looking for a fresh angle to inspire people of faith during the season.

    One of the highlights of Christmas is taking time to spend extra time with family and friends. We must be careful not to allow ourselves to be swallowed up in the busyness of the season. To me, there is nothing fulfilling about shopping to you drop, getting in debt, and the massive returns and exchanges the days following Christmas day.

    Last, but not least, we must remember those who are less fortunate. Though Christmas may not be about toys and gifts, it's hard for poor children to believe that when they have nothing and other kids have all the things they can only dream about. I like being part of outreaches to make a little child smile, even if only for Christmas Day.

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    1. Frank. You come in the category of having one of the hardest jobs around because each week you have to inspire others, help people to keep their faith in God whilst living in a real world with mistrust, unbelief and destruction all around. Christmas is a big christian event although it has changed in many ways.

      I love the idea of being part of an outreach because you can get to physically/emotionally help others, and to give others some sort of hope in life. A kind word, something to eat, fresh clothes, a fresh approach to an ongoing bad situation can go a very long way. Thanks Frank.

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  18. This is a very well versed post. I have mixed feelings about the commercializing Christmas has become but I still enjoy the holiday season. Even though I enjoy this time of year with family and friends I am well aware of those less fortunate and do try to give as much as I can. In all I try to stay hopeful and optimistic during the holidays as a new year approaches.

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    1. Thanks Phil, I truly hope that you and your family/friends have a good time together this year.

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  19. I only celebrate Christmas when I am visiting family in London. Otherwise, I spend the day sending out my book and generally being a lazy, but peaceful bum.

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  20. Thanks Blue Bead. What is your book about?

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  21. I used to be in retail business. So Christmas meant a time to make some money. Since my business in regular season did not bring profits, holiday season also meant the huge pressure, because rent was sky high. I remember that time, most small retail business owners were under such stress, some made money, but some faced tremendous loss. I finally left mall in 2008, with "bankruptcy". Since then, every Christmas I feel relieved that I no longer have to be in that crazy mall, worrying how much I paid for rent and inventory, how much I sold my products, or how many portraits I had done.
    On personal life side, being single for years, I don't share the warm color tone with most people who celebrate it with families. There were a few times, of course, very shortly, I would experience some lonesome feeling, but overall, I always try to enjoy everyday of my life just the same way.
    Thanks for a post that triggers my thoughts.

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    1. Yun Yi, you have definitely seen it from all angles. There is a lot of competition in the retail industry and Christmas is the time when everyone has to sell, sell, sell, so I can only imagine the huge pressure you were under. Sorry to hear about your bankruptcy, as I'm sure that was a tough time for you too, but at least like you said, you don't have to worry during this season now.

      You also mentioned having a 'lonesome feeling'. At times like these many people are talking about meeting with family or friends or doing things in couples and if you don't have this network of people around you it can be a very lonely time.

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  22. Definitely, there are 2 sides to Christmas. Do I enjoy Christmas? Honestly, for me Christmas brings both joy and sadness. That’s because for me, Christmas is all about children and family, and my family fell apart when I was a child due to my mom’s illness, and then I was unable to have children of my own. I feel that loss most especially at this time of year. When I was younger, before I was married (20 years ago now), I bought a stuffed bear in a Santa suit because it was so cute and I’d put it under my tree every year as a future gift for the child I’d have one day. Well, the child never came despite my best efforts and I still have that stuffed bear. I don’t put it under the tree anymore but I take it out briefly at Christmas time, have a good cry then put it away. Seems sad but doing that actually helps. Then I bake Christmas cookies to give out as gifts to neighbors, and take food and toys to homeless shelters. So I make myself pull out of my funk and find ways enjoy Christmas by giving to others. Finding funny holiday jokes to post on my blog helps too.

    My best and worst Christmas memories? My best one is when I was very young and I snuck out of my room on Christmas Eve looking for Santa. Well, I didn’t find him (LOL!) but the Christmas tree lights were on and all the other lights in the living room were off, so the tree really glowed with light. My parents were in their room and for a change my mother wasn’t yelling and fighting with my father and the house was quiet. So quiet and peaceful, and I just sat there looking at the lovely lights. I still love Christmas lights. Another great Christmas memory is when my sisters and I were all in our early 20s and not yet married, and we’d get together at my apartment to drink spiked eggnog and sing Christmas carols! That was fun.

    My worst Christmas memory as a child was the first Christmas that my siblings and I had to spend at the orphanage (not orphans but sent there to live when my mother was hospitalized with a nervous breakdown). It was a Catholic orphanage, and at Christmas the local Knights of Columbus had a Christmas party and brought gifts of toys and clothes for all the children. I still remember the beautiful dolls and how my younger sisters who had been so depressed about being in the orphanage were so excited about the dolls. Well, as soon the Knights of Columbus left, the nuns took all the dolls, toys and gifts away. Said the children didn’t deserve the gifts. They did that every Christmas I was there, just awful! So that’s a bad Christmas memory. That’s also why buying that Christmas bear for my future child was so important to me and why I take it out every year even though I have no children.

    Rum-Punch-Drunk, I know from what you write there may have been rough patches in your life too, although I don’t know the details, but I am wishing you a very happy and peaceful holiday!

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    1. Oh JerseyLil, I've just read this, and my heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry that every year brings back such bad memories for you. I'm also sorry I didn't get to this sooner.

      Wow, it's seems like Christmas for you is a distillation that brings together some really significant events in your past and desires for your future. It happens sometimes that when I read comments I am moved very deeply and you have touched me with your story.

      I'm so glad that instead of becoming bitter or just indulging in self-pity, you have made the decision to take your Christmas and share it with those who are going through their struggles right now. I take my hat off to you.

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  23. Times change, as I grew up the magic started disappearing. Sometimes I think Christmas is still here because of the nostalgia of our parents wanting to not ruin such a wonderful experience they once might have had. I honestly think this is how traditions are made, our silly attempts to secure something once was truly beautiful, but in reality we're maybe not even qualified enough to preserve it anymore. Times change, and as times change, the world must change with it - that is a reality we must confess to ourselves.

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    1. You're so right. As we get older, the innocence of our young lives fade in the wind, then in comes reality with a bump. We see things as they really are, while yet remembering the fairy-tales we once believed. Thanks Lifeologist.

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  24. Prayer for the faithful and gift giving.
    Wild party for the commercials.

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    1. In a nutshell, precisely. Thanks for stopping by Mr Potato.

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