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Christmas is coming!

Christmas is coming and though it may only be mid-October  it feels like the run up is already in full swing. Wikipedia states that in the USA the Christmas shopping period starts in early October. The Canadians show a little more restraint and don’t get going until just before Hallloween whilst, apparently, us Brits don’t even think about the festive season until mid November, when towns start to turn on their Christmas lights!

Christmas is BIG business. For many retailers the run up to Christmas accounts for 20% of their annual turnover. In the USA it’s calculated that 25% of all personal spending takes place between the beginning of October and Christmas Eve. We now have Black Friday and Super Saturday to encourage us to spend more and wrestle with fellow shoppers for the ultimate bargain. We are bombarded with adverts telling us THIS Christmas we need a new sofa, a bigger TV or a better fridge. Last year the UK spent £22.5 billion during the Christmas shopping period, with each household sending an average of £850.00. Retailers will earnestly study weather reports. It seems we don’t like doing our Christmas shopping when the weather is mild. When it comes to getting us to part with our hard earned cash it’s a case of the colder the better.

Magazines titillate us with mouthwatering recipes and we are told to be the perfect host we should have a few handy dishes in the freezer for any unexpected guests who may just drop in (!). We are given step by step, timed plans on how to cook the “most important meal of the year” and shown how to decorate our homes to be the envy of friends and family.

Worn out from shopping, moving furniture, preparing all that food and trying to outdo everyone we know it’s no wonder the average British family will have five arguments on Christmas Day, with the first one starting at 10.13am!

On the plus side charities in the UK will benefit by £50 million through the sales of Christmas cards and The Royal Mail will employ 21,000 extra staff to cope with the billion greetings we send every year.

In the days when I owned a paint your own pottery shop my life would be a frenzy from mid October up until we closed for business on 23rd December. Nowadays I don’t recognise that picture at all. I’m not a Christian, but I love Christmas. I love the rituals associated with it: soaking the fruit for the cake, pudding and mince pies, choosing gifts for loved ones, picking out and decorating the tree, driving to Heart of England Farm to collect the turkey (always excellent) and listening to the carol service from King’s College on Christmas Eve, whilst preparing the vegetables for the feast the next day. Christmas for me is a time to spend with family and friends, reflect on the year that’s nearly done and look forward to the one yet to come. It’s about building family memories and if that means having the same TV as last year, a meal that will be delicious but not perfect and a tree with decorations that may have seen better days, then that’s fine with me.