Christmas is for Children (& Adults Alike – So I Say)

“Christmas is for children, just for children, grown ups say.” (Glen Campbell, Christmas is for Children)

I say: “Nonsense!”

As I made my final work commute of the year, last Friday (bring on the much-needed festive break), I couldn’t help but notice the look of excitement and glee on every child that passed by. For Friday brought with it the end of term for most children (unless they attend a private school, in which case they most likely broke up at least a week earlier – lucky parents/au pairs/Hamley’s).

I therefore spent the best part of last week’s commute watching parents, laden down with Christmas cards covered in more glitter than a Strictly final, struggle to-and-from their 4x4s. Kudos to the mother whose child had made a gigantic, tinsel covered card – that will look lovely on the fridge.

Glittering silver Christmas tinsel

On Friday evening, one young mother boarded the bus with what could only be described as an entourage of fired-up festive children (if Willy Wonka is on the lookout for a new E-number, look no further). Clearly on their way to a Christmas party – beautifully wrapped gifts tightly held by each child – I looked on, admiring their utter elation, full of the spirit of Christmas. The anticipation of the last day of term now a distant memory; Santa’s visit is imminent and best behaviour the motto of Every. Single. Day.

One little girl sat admiring her sparkly shoes as though nothing else mattered. And let’s be honest, at that age, nothing really does. The only boy in the group was clearly so proud of his choice in Christmas jumper; he made sure all winter accessories were rapidly removed so as to treat all fellow passengers to his reindeer covered attire.

Reindeer jumper

But I began to wonder whether these children experience the same sense of build-up to the big day, as I felt? Being an eighties child, it was mandatory – a right of passage if you will – to spend the best part of November, thumbing through an Argos catalogue, writing what felt like an endless list to Santa. I would hand-write said list and be sure to leave it by the fireplace (a radiator actually – fireplace simply sounds far more ‘of the season’) one evening in December, to ensure one of Santa’s elves magically collected it as they were flying through town – as if they had time for that?! What do children corner the pages of these days? ‘Favouriting’ a page on Amazon, or emailing your list to Santa, just isn’t the same.

And what about Christmas music? On 1 December, without fail, I will allow my ipod to be filled with all songs Christmassy: Mud, Lennon, Cliff, Bowie, Bing, the list is endless. It was only this weekend I overheard a man’s reaction at hearing Aled Jone’s, Walking in the Air, “Tune!” he proudly announced. Tune indeed! Ok, The Darkness, made a good enough effort a few years’ back, and the re-release of, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ will no doubt punctuate many Christmases to come (sad, but true). But where’s that nostalgic melody for children of today to get excited about when they hit their thirties?

snowman

Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, not least due to my family’s wonderful way of celebrating it whole-heartedly. I still get as excited during the build up to the big day as I did when I was a 5-year-old. My eagerness at purchasing, The John Rutter Songbook, as a pre-Christmas treat, was like walking back on stage at secondary school – there isn’t an arrangement of his I haven’t sung.

Rutter.

I hope that children embarking on their Christmas holidays, this year, are lucky enough to feel that same nostalgia I feel, when they reach their thirties. I am sure there are plenty of Christmas memories being made as I type (the song list from, Frozen, will no doubt feature heavily on Christmas complications in 2044), so let’s just hope they are as special and character-forming as mine felt and still feel, to this day.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…isn’t it?

I love everything about Christmas; the mandatory arrival of Terry’s Chocolate Orange in every supermarket from mid-September; Jamie Oliver and Kirsty Allsop’s annual festive offerings and Christmas music stalking my ears from one department store to the next. Utterly glorious.

It would appear, however, that my lustre for the season is not appreciated by all. Please observe:

The Savvy Shopper: While waiting in line to pay for a batch of Christmas gifts, I couldn’t help but overhear a customer getting into the spirit of things: “Excuse me, when do the sales start? The proper ones. The Boxing Day ones.”

boxing-day-sales

The Alternative Nativity: A rather flustered mother discusses her complete disarray at her child’s part in the Christmas nativity: “Yes she’s been given her part in the nativity. A bloody woodlouse. She’s playing a woodlouse. No I don’t know where they featured in the birth of Jesus. Don’t laugh, we’ve got to make the bloody costume!” Even I was finding it tricky to put a festive spin on this one.

Woodlouse

Joseph would be proud: A young girl runs onto the train with such enthusiasm, she causes the elderly woman opposite me to jump. Dressed in a full Virgin Mary costume, the young girl proceeds to crawl up and down the aisle, barking at every commuter she encounters (and at 5.30pm on a Wednesday, that’s a lot of commuters). Her mother, clearly at the end of her oh-so-patient tether, politely requests her daughter, “behaves like a lady.” The young girl, not content with being obedient, now begins meowing. Facetious? Yes. Entertaining? Completely. It’s at this point, the lady opposite me intervenes: “You wouldn’t see Mary crawling around, barking like a dog and meowing like a cat now, would you?”

Mary nativity

But hilarity, glitter and Kevin McCallister giggles aside, it’s important not to forget the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but as a Christian, I like to think that the season of goodwill, it anything at all, makes us pause for thought and perhaps reevaluate our place in life. As tough a card we might think we’ve been dealt, there is no doubt, someone worse off. And let’s face it, you could have been spending the run-up to Christmas creating a woodlouse costume. Now that can’t be much fun.