There’s something about snow that gives us a common problem. Doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive, you need de-icer, anti-freeze and a snow scraper regardless of make and model. If there’s ten or twenty inches of snow in your area, then everyone in your area is effected with transport issues, keeping warm, buying food. My car is stuck. In so much that my street is impassable.
I find it a quirky source of amusement that we Brits are taken by surprise every time there is a fluttering of snowflakes. And how, despite weather warnings and met office advice and guidelines, there’s always the few idiots that believe the elements are no serious conquest for them reaching their destinations. And inevitably some rescue service or other finds them perishing up a mountain, or on a unheard of B road. Stay home. Stay in. Stay warm. You are not super human and Jack frost will always gladly bite your backside with a “Told you so” smile.
I’m not keen on this time of year. This is more to do with the commercial, artificial, spiritually bereft run up to Christmas than the weather itself. I feel a disgusting pressure from external influences, (media, advertising, TV, etc), to be having a fabulous time. To be basking in glitter and displaying an inner glow, that matches every twinkling tree light and shiny bauble. Not me, I have enough “Baa Humbug” in me to fill our parish church.
I do though, look forward to resurrecting my sparkly Christmas jumper from the back of my cupboard. It is only appropriate to wear this around the dark days of Advent. And I do look forward to cooking Christmas lunch for my friends on our extra Christmas day. This extra day we have allotted marks sort of a pagan notch in the history of our friendships. We all feel on some level or other, squeezed into a one size fits all festive season and inevitably, like when wearing a badly fitted bra, there is overspill, into either the wine or the flat Yorkshire puddings.
Tolerance is the highest virtue among friends. We may not fully understand or agree with each other’s eccentric thoughts and behaviour, but we tolerate, because we know, that we are mirrors for our own eccentric reflections. Like the year there was an exchange of bad feeling that had been brewing for weeks. Two of us drew the icicles at first course and an icy chill cooled the turkey and the Christmas pudding. Or the year the hostess had an almost apoplectic fit because she did not have enough matching place mats for the numbers around the table.
The buck’s fizz flows and at least one of us drinks the psycho bitch red wine. There’s the hullabuloo every year about who likes mince pies and who doesn’t, who likes Christmas cake and who doesn’t, and of course who’s going to do the bloody dishes. We may not provide the holiest of congregations, but we have our ritual for the sake of friendship and company. A solidarity against the perfections of the TV ad Christmas with an impossible standard, and we know not only are we are too human to ever make that grade, but we are doomed from the outset to even try.
Against the harshness of ice, slush,hail and snow, where do we seek our comfort? In the warmth of hat and gloves fresh off the radiator. In the overindulgence of food. In the receipt of many over priced and unnecessary presents. In the Christmas decorations that deflect the eye’s attention from the badly papered wall. In the hope that next year will be better. That next year we’ll be healthier, wealthier, wiser; such an emotional investment into broken resolutions on the first or second of January.
Are you left with a hollow sense of anti-climax after the opening of presents and the stuffing of your face? Ebeneezer hasn’t got a patch on me, the bringer of festive doom and gloom. Fighting with friends and relatives. Moody and emotional. Fraught with worry, (will it be good enough for them this year?). Family break ups that couldn’t take any more strain. Divorce proceedings begin for disillusioned couples. A terrible financial hangover and an ulcer and a prescription for Valium from the doc.
I have always said I would prefer to be bear at this time of year, where hibernation is acceptable and natural. At least all your relatives are going to be asleep at the same time and the scrapping over food is over and done with. Instead of my animal spirit fantasy I do attend church and find some comfort in looking at the simplicity of the nativity scene. I find the symbolism of the nativity much more honest because of its spiritual nudity. There are no pretensions here, (whether or not one believes in the Christ child), this offers me solace and sanctuary from the tiresome thud of a culturally and spiritually bereft Christmas tide.
Would it be hypocritical to wish you all a Merry Christmas now? Probably. So I’ll say save your sanity and your dignity instead. I’ll pray for world peace and for the individual’s peace of mind. What you pray for is your business. What you believe in is your business. I do hope you get through this time of year unscathed and that the new year really does bring new light and new hope for whatever situation you find yourself in and remember, at times like these we all need, de-icer, anti- freeze and a snow scraper.