Is it really Christmas already?

I was in a shop yesterday and heard a sound that sent shivers down my spine – Mariah Carey was being piped onto the shop floor and could be heard singing “All I want for Christmas is yyooooouuuuuuu!” Yep, it is that time again IT’S NEARLY CHRISTMAS – well you would think it was by the state of our shops. All of them now seem to be decorated in stars, stockings, robins and snowmen. Even Halfords have tinsel wrapped around their screen de-icer. I can now buy lots of Christmas shaped chocolate things for half price. Today I found myself standing in a queue to pay for my shopping and wondering whether or not I should buy3 Chocolate Oranges for the price of two. It seemed such a bargain and a great addition to my mythical Christmas box. Have you ever managed to maintain a Christmas box? I haven’t. I buy things and start to create a nice little box of treats only to find myself eating them on a cold Thursday night when I’m feeling in need of a little luxury. That means that come December 17th my Christmas box holds a packet walnut whips and some cheese biscuits and I have spent far more money than I should have done enjoying Christmas treats too early.

I always start to feel sorry for people who work in shops around this time too. I have worked in a toyshop and a department store and let me tell you – not everyone is full of happiness during the season of good will. Firstly, spare a thought for the shop assistants. They will have been listening to that Christmas music all day, every day, for roughly 6 weeks and it will be driving them nuts. By the time you get to the second week of December most shop assistants will be able to tell you exactly which song comes next on the store playlist – go on try it, ask them. It can all become a little irritating. Add to that customers who are stressed out, buying presents for people they don’t know, sometimes don’t even like and it can all feel like hard work. A friendly reminder at this point – the German Market opens in Birmingham on the 15th November. Beautiful but very, very busy. Enough said!

Now I recognise that I am starting to sound like a bit of a grump and for that I am sorry. I love Christmas. Perhaps I should be more correct and talk about how much I treasure Advent and Christmas. The preparing for Jesus is as wonderful as His actual arrival. HOWEVER I do find Christmas hard work. You’ll probably be unsurprised to hear that in conversation most of our Toddler community talk about the pressure they face in celebrating Christmas. They love it; they love all of it, but feel the real burden of having to be seen to be doing it ‘right’. Presents, food, clothes, drinks and traditions all take time and money. People are already coping with financial insecurity and Christmas only makes that worse. I feel many of the same pressures. I know what Christmas is really about but my sons are caught up in expectations that I don’t want crush. My family and friends expect me to dive into the festivities wholeheartedly and I don’t want to let them down. It is a bit of a balancing act and I am not sure I have ever managed to get it right. Any tips would be gratefully received!

In our home during advent, along with the candles and the calendar we put up a sign which says “Jesus is the reason for the season” It can sometimes seem naff and at other times profound but it is just one of the ways that, in the middle of all the fun, food and festivities, we try to keep our eyes focussed on what really matters. I would like to point out that that will not be happening until the end of November. There is still time to go. IT IS NOT CHRISTMAS YET!

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