I have to admit that, prior to his epiphany, Scrooge and I had much in common. Although, as a child, I vividly and fondly remember the magic of it all when our family got together in Scotland for Christmas.
So what happened? Two things really.
I’ve been self-employed in retail most of my working life and over the years the build-up to the big day got longer and longer – as did shop opening hours. It was hard work, and there was never enough time to think about our own Christmas Day. I just longed for the whole thing to be over.
Secondly, my birthday is just before Christmas, so I was used to it being eclipsed, with combined presents the norm. Why would any parent choose to inflict that on their children? I don’t know, but I did. Both my children were born in December. So, when December loomed – I gloomed. The prospect of non-stop work, having to buy so many presents and organise birthday parties just sent me into despair.
However, because I’m now retired, it will be different. Easier said than done, though. I’m having to break years of conditioning by not frantically chasing round shops looking for presents nobody really wants; and by not sending cards out to Tom, Dick and Harry. Instead, I’ll invite them round for a mincemeat muffin from VfL’s new Christmas guide. I’m hoping that delivering goodwill face-to-face, instead of through the post, will transform my Christmas.
Best of all, I’ll have the time to enjoy seeing my grandchildren experiencing the Christmas magic.
Because, much as the Christmas spending frenzy bothers me, there really is a joy in giving. This must surely be the time to think of others? This year I will actually send a donation to Shelter, as well as dropping the odd coin in the Salvation Army’s collecting tin.
So, like Ebenezer, I have seen the light. But, unlike him, I will not be summoning the boy in the street to fetch the prize turkey from the poulterers. (How, I have often wondered, did Mrs Cratchit manage to cook that turkey in time for Christmas dinner, with her limited cooking facilities?) Instead, I’ll make merry in the best veggie style: I love the look of Martin Shaw’s Christmas pud!
As tradition demands, here’s a Christmas cracker joke:
Why did the tofu cross the road?
To prove it wasn’t chicken.
And, to return to Dickens,
...and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well…May that be truly said of us, and all of us!