I try not to buy into - literally buy into - the whole Christmas madness yet year after year I'm getting deeper and deeper into tinsel town. When I was a wee yin my mammy made a great big festive fuss. it wasn’t a big spendathon fuss..... I mean to say the folks were skint and their were five nippers so it wasn’t a big fancy gifts thing. We didn’t get bikes or record players but we did get very excited and it felt all cozy. Mammy put up the metallic decorations including 'twirlygigs' in symmetrical order on the living room ceiling. We five had been given Auntie Anna's Kayes catalogue a few weeks earlier as reading material and I suppose mammy listened carefully to our choices because we pretty much got all the games we'd asked for.
On the run up to the big day itself there was a definite buzz about the house, shopping gradually piled up in the kitchen, a huge sack of spuds, carrots, sprouts, onions, turnip... all the ingredients for soup and main course. There would also be a cake... an real actual cake which was usually a Christmas log type thing with a wee Robin and some Holly on it! very exciting. Mammy had an order in a the butchers for silverside and a capon (a big chicken that was corn fed apparently) which would be collected on Christmas eve from our butcher.
On Christmas the 5 McGarvey weans would sing a few we Christmas songs then we'd toddle off to bed having left out a pillow case each for Santa. Then in the wee small hours up we sneaked to find our presents. It was brilliant, so exciting and warm. I can see it all still. I can smell the new books, remember still the magic moment when you thought you'd opened everything then you found a wee wrapped present under all the paper with your name on it - Oh it was marvelous.
Before we knew it the day was flying by and the table was up. The table was only ever up fully on Christmas day because it was broken and needed some assistance to be a table. Mammy always put a blanket on it first then the fancy table covers on top, she said it felt more luxurious rather than just the fancy paper table covers on their own and she was right. Our uncle Patsy Brady joined us for dinner, we sat on just about anything we could and were at various heights but who cared? none of us cause we bloody loved every wobbly minute of it was brilliant.... the stuff of childhood memories and just perfect.
I have never been able to stop myself recreating that treat for myself and for my children and indeed for anyone anywhere who will join in. Over the decades we've shared wonderful 25th's of December and we've had some sad ones. We've had very international ones when many of my friends from Africa. Iran and Russia joined us to celebrate Christmas (some of our best times) We've experimented with different types of celebrations for the big day and this year we went out for our dinner with family and friends and it was lovely.
I tut at and despise the pressure of Christmas. I so saddened to know that so many people are in so much debt trying to supply the demands their children are forced to make via capitalism and advertising. I hate that many people feel very lonely all year round and this is magnified at Christmas as the rest of us reach out to family and friends. I'm atheist so I don’t even go along with the reason Christmas day happens..... However, I do it. I do Christmas. I enjoy seeing my loved ones having fun, opening gifts, getting time off work, the songs, the games and the memories most of all I get the memories and I want folk I love to get the memories. im sad that many, many people will not feel this. I avoid things like news and sadness just for a few days because I somehow don’t want it to get in the way of this thing called Christmas. Does this make me a neglectful socialist? a soft socialist? does this mean I've sold out? failed? missed the point? Well I don't think so - I think I'm doing the right thing and I think my intentions are good but I'm certain of one thing I don’t want to let those memories go and I don't want to keep them to myself................... I do Christmas.