I’m getting all excited. It’s only a few weeks until my Birthday and once that is out of the way it’s only 6 weeks until Christmas. This means the doom merchants and misery guts’s will be out in force decrying the commercialisation of Christmas, more on that in a moment, back to my Birthday.
I shouldn’t really celebrate my birthday as each time I have one I get a little bit older which can’t be a good thing. It won’t be that long before I start celebrating each birthday because I survived until it happened along and hope I get to see another one. In the meantime though I like my birthday because I get stuff given to me, which let’s face it, is the best bit about having a birthday. That and Birthday cards, but mostly presents. If you stop and think about it there are only a handful of proper birthdays we should actually celebrate as milestones.
Getting to be 5 is a big one as you get to go to school and learn about bullies and books. Turning 13, which means you are much more grown up than you were yesterday when you were only a kid of 12. The next big one is when you can legally have a drink, ideally that should be 18. Turning 21 is pretty epic of course, my 21st wasn’t though, I had dinner at home with Mum and Dad. My younger brother went out and my older brother didn’t come to visit, so just me and my olds. Awesome is a word often over used and it certainly would be here as it wasn’t! I have no idea how that happened and why I missed my 21st Birthday Party, perhaps I should have a belated one! Who wants to come along?
After you’ve become 21 it should be a big celebration every 10 years of your crossing into the following decade, but I’m ok with a little extra bit of feasting and drinking with added gifts every year to help me pass through to another one. Birthdays are a celebration of the self, a personal day of self-indulgence and hopefully being indulged by others. Which is about the opposite of Christmas. Christmas is about the others rather than the self. Christmas is only a few weeks away and people are already grizzling about how it is over commercialised, as they did last year and the year before that. Stop it! What over commercialised means is just that there is more stuff for sale in shops, buying the stuff is not compulsory!
Of course retailers are going to capitalise on a selling opportunity, it’s called being in business and making a living. I don’t really believe anyone wants to go back to the days when we gathered together and gave each other tuberculosis instead of gifts. Or when the gifts were made of hessian and lead? No, now we have shops full of amazing things and bright colours, there will be the must have gift of the year, remember once upon a time it was Cabbage Patch Dolls, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Air fix or Revel Kit-sets, even the Rumours Album by Fleetwood Mac, we got three!. This year it will most likely be an electronic thing which allows you to talk to space aliens by clicking ‘like’ on Facebook, but none of this matters. Parents will buy their children what they can afford as they have always done. What matters is the fact that it is rightly called ‘the season of goodwill’. Everyone cheers up for a while and says hello to people they otherwise wouldn’t.
Families and friends all over the world gather together, no longer giving each other tuberculosis and enjoy each other’s company. There is some exchanging of gifts but unlike a birthday the joy is more in the giving rather than the getting. That John Lewis ad last year was not so far wide of the mark. Of course kids will mostly want to receive rather than give but kids are poor and getting toys is great when you are little. The rest of us like to see the faces on the people we have bought a thoughtful gift for. It’s telling that after we have all sat around with a glass of mulled wine and exchanged the gifts after breakfast, the gifts spend the rest of the day in a pile while we go off to enjoy each other’s company at a big table groaning with food and wine, being in a good mood and happy. Well except Aunty Doris who is a bitter old woman who has hated everyone and everything since she was born but we all have one of those and why do we keep inviting her?
Some people like to go to a drafty building in the middle of the night to sing songs about an Israeli carpenter being born in some straw in the olden days; it’s not for me but each to their own.
Anytime soon, probably about mid-November we will have Slade starting to wish us a Merry Christmas which is when Christmas properly starts. It’s not really Christmas until Slade sing “So here it is Merry Christmas” The Band Aid song will once again ask us if Ethiopians even know it is Christmas and I’d like to publicly state on behalf of Ethiopia that yes they do, given that Christianity is by a large margin the principle religion of their country and most Ethiopians take their religion far more seriously than Bob Geldof or Midge Ure off Ultravox.
Yes Christmas is coming and it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Everyone cheers up a bit despite the best efforts of the media to tell us that Christmas has lost its meaning while carrying dozens of pages of advertising telling us of all the things we must buy each other for Christmas. Christmas is brilliant though, the lights go up, faces light up, people lighten up. We live in a time when ‘things’ are king. People want to have all manner of gadgets and frippery but none of this matters at all. What matters is that we are more inclined to be nice to each other just for a while, because it’s Christmas and that’s great
Pull faces at the shop windows full of nice things all you like but I for one will look forward to Christmas and seeing some friends, eating and drinking too much, sitting by the fire reading a couple of the books I will inevitably get for Christmas, I’ll think about reading the books I got over the last 10 years that I haven’t started yet and tell myself I will read them next year.
On a final note to my family and friends back in the Southern Hemisphere, sorry but winter Christmas is better than summer Christmas. I love winter Christmas, now bring on Slade…. and my Birthday, cheers!