It’s that time of year again – Christmas is coming round again. I always get a bit edgy at this time of year. Christmas trees return to Dutch living rooms, and all the Christmas decorations are brought down from the loft and dusted off: lights, Christmas baubles and streamers, and of course a sparkling topper to crown the tree.
Once the tree is up and decorated, we put a complete Christmas manager depicting the birth of Jesus at the base. We’re usually not satisfied with the old stuff, so we traipse around Christmas markets in search of new colourful accessories. The thing I hate most is when people feel they need to show their Christmas decorations to the rest of the world: from wreathes on the front door to entire trees in the garden hung with flashing lights.
And if that wasn’t enough, the rest of the month is plagued by a vague sense of weariness. We stress about buying the right gifts, choosing the right tie to wear on Christmas day, the perfect Christmas dinner, including choice of wine (preferably better than last year). And then we have to decide who to invite or visit on these two crazy days. Who actually made us do all this? Don’t get me wrong, this is a wonderful time of year and I’ve happily taken part in various nostalgic traditions.
For many years I even celebrated Christmas abroad, surrounded by French snow, ski lifts, red wine, burgundian meals and more red wine. I just feel it’s such a shame that in 2015 we’ve become hostages to the commercialism of this festivity. Call me a Calvinist, but we could rein in the excesses.
My resolution for this year is therefore to focus on the idea behind Christmas, which is not about the amount of money we spend on gifts, or about the stomach-churning amount of food we all eat, or whether my Nordmann is bigger than my neighbour’s.
No, in these last weeks of this year, I’m finally going to give my family and friends the undivided attention they should have had during the rest of the year. At the same time, I will realise that we live in a country where we can celebrate this festivity in peace and freedom. Merry Christmas!