Although December is now a few weeks past and, according to Tesco, the Easter bunny is just about to roll us all into the bariatric surgery wards, I do need to hark back to Christmas in order to illustrate the point of this week’s column. I apologise in advance.
I’ve been trying to explain to my girls recently just how much time people used to spend together with their families. Long gone are the times when the shops would close for a period of days, as opposed to mere hours, over the festive period. It used to be a big deal to go and do the Christmas food shop for example, requiring the kind of preparations and time allowance that one would usually need in order to scale Everest or similar.
In fact, if Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, then the world would close its doors from Friday afternoon until Wednesday, because the bank holidays would run into the next working week.This closure made the whole experience feel so much more special – and I am positive that’s not nostalgia talking. There was something thrilling about the fact that the world was shutting up shop, the streets would empty, and people took indoors to hibernate and rest.
Time would be spent playing games, or reading books, or tuning-in in our millions to watch the Only Fools and Horses Christmas special. The build-up to the festive period did not seem like an anti-climax because the festivities lasted for days, and not just until Next opened their doors at the ludicrous hour of 6am on Boxing Day.
It seems that there is no longer any area of our lives that is not governed by the shops. Is it just me, or is this ridiculous? Is it just me, or would it be fabulous to still have one time of year when much of the world grinds to a halt, and we have to focus on what really matters: each other?
It is because of these post-festive thoughts that my husband and I have been trying to make a concerted effort to have a little bit of ‘Christmas’ each weekend. To snuggle up on the sofa with the kids, to relax and walk the dog, chatting about our plans, and to focus on our family and simply forget the weekday rush.
Sometimes we have to stop and remember that a family is for life, not just for Christmas.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 20th January 2015