If Christmas didn’t exist, we’d need to invent it.
It’s no coincidence that the feast lies at the darkest part of the year, literally ‘in the bleak mid-winter’. A time when we need something to look forward to, a pick-me-up. Pre-Christian society understood this, with their ‘Yuletide’ winter solstice celebrations, which were neatly ‘re skinned’ (using a modern parlance) by early Christianity with the familiar Bethlehem-based narrative. The story changed, but the heart of the feast remained the same – communities coming together to celebrate, during the bleakest of seasons.
The mid-winter oasis of the ‘festive season’ was, for generations, the exclusive territory of religion. But things change, meaning evolves and time moves on. We know, of course, that the ‘holidays’ so movingly crooned of in the Cola commercial are a contraction of the Christian ‘holy days’. Yet the word no longer has an ecclesiastical connotation. The same might be said of ‘Christmas’ itself – an abbreviation of ‘Christ’s Mass’, which (I feel) wouldn’t be the primary definition for most. Like ‘holiday’, the word has new common meaning: a festive period of goodwill and joviality. There are new myths and traditions too, with John Lewis and Coca Cola at the heart of these, here in this country.
I wish those who choose to celebrate the religious during this festive time well. They do not, however, have a monopoly on ‘the true meaning of Christmas’.
In a former life, long before In The Night Garden marathons and synchronized bacon sandwich and Peppa Pig viewing sessions, I used to have a responsible job where people listened to and acted upon what I said. These days I find myself in the centre aisle of the Co-op pleading with my son to stop crying because I won’t buy him a full-sized carpet cleaning system.
Yes, that happened.
It’s the odd thing about milestones, I just don’t see them.
What I mean is, I’ve never actually noticed a milestone at the time it happened. Rather I’ve only been able to see the moments that marked real, tangible, progression in my life retrospectively.
I think this may be a side effect of being busy. Actually ‘busy’, if I’m honest, doesn’t quite cover it. For the last 2 years I’ve been so manically active, so frantically ‘on task’, that ‘busy’ sounds like a rest.
And no, I’m not about to start moaning about how hard parenting is. We’ve all heard that a 1000 times before.
Parenting is hard.
But that isn’t newsworthy, there is no breaking story there.
It’s always been hard. It will always be hard.
That’s just the way it is. Sorry folks.
I’m keen, however, as my son achieves his second birthday, to look back at my first 24 months of fatherhood.
What have I learned? If anything?
Am I still out of my depth? It’s likely.
Do I continue to make points in lists of 3? Definitely.
My brush with fame was to take place at the Exeter offices of BBC Devon. From these far from exotic surroundings (sat in a glorified cupboard) I was to link in with show. It was only when I was seated, mic’d and framed for the piece that my stomach sank. I spent the next 30 minutes, looking at 4 monitors each displaying my features as we waiting for the allotted time. Under the harsh lighting (without makeup) I looked like crap. There’s no other way of looking at it, I looked like someone who’d just completed a sleep deprivation marathon. I have never seen myself look so old, tired or haggard.
‘Life is a roller-coaster’ or, at least, that’s what the venerable Mr. Ronan Keating once told us. I must admit I’m not a huge fan of the former Boyzone singer’s work – just not my cup of proverbial hot liquid. That said, I must agree with the sentiment of his song. Life IS a roller-coaster. Continue reading “Rediscovering Mothers’ Day…”