Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The two realities of Christmas

Christmas is a magical time; a time of being with family, friends, loved ones. A time of sitting round an open fire or a gas fire or an electric fire or no fire. A time of stuffing our faces with rich laden food, drinking too much alcohol and too many fizzy drinks. A time for experiencing the delight in children’s faces when they open their presents. It is a time of getting in touch with our Christian roots and our Pagan roots. It is a time of myth making, Santa Claus and believing in things that do not exist. Father Christmas and the birth of Jesus on the 25 of December are fictitious but both are representative of gift giving and new beginnings. There is celebration of a new hope and a new beginning but in order for that to happen there has to be death of the old. At Christmas time all above the ground is dead whilst below the ground new life is emerging.

         So Christmas is a dying time.  A time of grieving, of loss and of heartache. Behind the many manic shoppers, the rampant consumerism, albeit somewhat slowed down since the recession, there are thousands, maybe millions of people who groan and brace themselves because it is that time of year again. If you have lost a loved one you know what I’m talking about. When people say to you Happy Christmas, you pretend and smile and wish them Happy Christmas in return but inside your heart is breaking. You go through the motions of Christmas but none of it has any meaning for you. Christmas has the capacity to heighten one’s lose and one’s grief. If you have lost a loved one a month ago, a year ago, ten years ago or more, Christmas will slice through your heart and bring that grief out again, bloody and raw, whether it’s for a moment, an hour, a day or the entire festive period. I know because I feel it every year since my sister died in 2005. I miss her and I feel that grief today.
          Behind the festive cheer are scores and scores of homeless people, lonely people, poor people who cannot afford to give either themselves or their family the Christmas they want. There are women and men getting into debt, selling their bodies or working two or more jobs at the expense of their family in an attempt to keep up with the expectations of Christmas. It is a sad time, a funny time and can be a scary time. It can bring out family tensions that boil beneath the surface for the rest of the year. Children of alcoholics groan because they know it’s the season where mum or dad get pissed even more so and destroy any genuine family feeling.
         Behind the simple words ‘Happy Christmas’ there can be happiness but equally there can be heartache and I feel it is vital to remember this. One doesn’t have to be po-faced but neither should one gleefully ignore the two realities of Christmas. So instead of wishing you all a Happy Christmas, I wish for you all to have a peaceful Christmas and for those of you who dread it and can’t wait for it to end, I hope it is a quick Christmas until the times come when you can bear to hear the daft Christmas songs on the radio, the cheery TV presenters, the repetitive Christmas programmes and films that come year after year. I hope and pray that you can get through it and endure it and somehow in time, yes that old clich├ęd chestnut, it will ease the sorrow and grief that you feel right now, because with time it does get easier.

© The Bag Lady  December 2009


  1. Food for thought, and marinated with feeling and emotion! Happy Christmas!

  2. Thanks Niall, Happy Christmas to you too


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