Being Christmas time it seems oddly appropriate to be sitting here with the woodburner blazing away and the rain pelting on the roof in the midst of summer. In the corner of my lounge is a large pine tree branch that, when propped up, passes as a rudimentary Christmas tree. The most significant aspect to the tree is that my son and I spent an enjoyable hour or so decorating it with all manner of colourful items. It didn’t matter that most of the sweets and crackers had been disposed of before the big day arrived. What mattered was the love that we put into constructing the edifice itself.
When he’s not with me, I can look at that tree and be reminded of what we shared and it fills me with enjoyment and warmth. That is why the tree remains in place long after the presents are opened and the last mince pie has been consumed. In fact every year I take a photo of my son in front of the tree. Those photos form a pictorial history of his growth and development.
Christmas tradition seems stronger than ever. I believe the reasons are twofold. Firstly we remain in the grip of a headlong rush to consumerism that began with new found post-war wealth over fifty years ago. Christmas provides us with the perfect guilt-free reason to shop. Secondly, “Western society” has been rudely awakened to the fact that there are many competing ideologies outside of the Judeo-Christian paradigm. Christmas is seen as an antidote to these strange exogenous forces.
So Christmas remains as popular as ever. But the best part is whenever I come home and open the front door I am immediately assailed by pine scent and reminded of the time that my son and I spent together at Christmas. That is what Christmas is really about.