Christmas is all about tradition, but not really. I think Christmas as a concept may be traditional in itself but what Christmas means to people can be very different depending on the individual and will inevitably evolve as time goes by. There are elements that remain constant; the exchange of gifts, the religious aspect, the decorations and of course the increased awareness of the bond between family and friends. In my experience all of these change with time and even though on the surface these elements remain in one form or another, often the meaning of them alters to take account of the circumstances and the journey we’ve taken along life’s road.
Now that I’m a Golden Boy (don’t get too excited I just meant I’m in my fifties) my take on Christmas presents has changed considerably. Mainly because I’m lucky enough to have a reasonably good job and can afford anything I want (within reason), I’ve become the person for whom everyone has trouble finding a suitably exciting gift. In reality, I’ve reached the point in life where ‘want’ is second to ‘need’ and my needs are not as great as they were when I was younger. Therefore the thought behind the gift is more important now than the gift itself. That will no doubt change when I’m older and retirement has kerbed my earning power, but that’s what I mean by evolving circumstances.
The religious aspect of Christmas still has a meaning for me but since I’m no longer a practising Catholic it has modified into sentiment and tradition. The Christian element now simply reminds me of my childhood Christmases when my parents and siblings gathered together over the holiday period. Strangely though I don’t approve of the move to replace the expression ‘Merry Christmas’ with ‘Happy Holidays’. In fact I still won’t write ‘Xmas’ on anything because it takes Christ out of Christmas – superstition or respect for those who believe?
Decorations- I’m not even going there. Candles and lights only this year.
Last but most important of all is the real meaning of Christmas to me – family and friends. I suppose you realise the meaning of time when you reach an age where your parents are both dead (not passed away – that expression is on my banned list). We don’t hold a lease on our life and who knows whether any of these events might be the last time we get a chance to be together and share gifts, hugs and happy times. My definition of ‘family’ includes those people who seek you out to spend time with you just for the sake of being together. The family that you choose and choose you, as well as those that fate or luck gave you the good fortune to be actually related to.
Now you know what Christmas means to me, but remember what I said earlier, that the meaning evolves and so who knows what it might mean five years from now? I’ll let you know in 2018!