Joy to the World

‘It’s as far away as ever now.’

As children we were treated to these words of wisdom every year by our grandma, as the Christmas Day festivities drew to a close. She delivered them with all the cheeriness of a judge pronouncing a death sentence onto a prisoner in the dock. Even their predictability couldn’t cushion the overwhelming deflation we would feel as we heard them. But reflecting now, as an adult, I can see she had a point.

It is at this juncture that we analyse the day’s proceedings and assess whether the chaos and tension of the past few months have been worth it. Did your loved ones make merry and agree that a good time was had by all? Or was your turkey as dry as the Gobi Desert and a fight break out in the kitchen because your auntie downed all the advocaat before your mum got a look in? And were you left with a mountain of washing-up that would take you till New Year to clear, leaving you wishing the buses were running so that you could go and throw yourself under one?

At the end of the day, what are we left with? As the start of a New Year looms large, we are left contemplating all that may lie in store for us before the next Christmas Day dawns.

What is it about the Christmas season that evokes such extremes of emotion?

I can recall, as a child, the excitement building in waves once Bonfire Night was behind us and the rustic days of autumn gave way to the first nip of winter, bringing with it the realisation that Christmas was on its way. The dark early evenings would be cheered by the bright fairy lights adorning the shop windows and by the time Christmas Eve arrived, the anticipation was palpable making it almost impossible to sleep.

No doubt the same sensation is experienced by millions of children the world over but with maturity and advancing years, the most prevalent sensation I bear witness to these days is the strain on my credit card.

Christmas isn’t all fun and happiness. For many it is a time of abject loneliness, when individuals are reminded more than ever of their solitude as all around them seem to be celebrating their connections to others.

But the magic of Christmas doesn’t come gift-wrapped; it is best represented by the way we consider and treat those around us.

This was evident in a recent local newspaper article about a family who had written to Coca Cola regarding their mother who has been diagnosed as terminally ill. It has always been her tradition to begin to decorate the house for Christmas with the first viewing of the holiday truck adverts. Her family felt that seeing the truck in person, garnished with its festive lights, would be the highlight of what would probably be her last Christmas.

Coca Cola willingly obliged and the holiday truck trundled down her tiny suburban street to make a sick woman and her daughters very happy.

Now the cynical amongst us may consider it no more than an excellent PR opportunity, but I choose to believe it was an act of goodwill that demonstrates how the true spirit of Christmas is still alive and well.

I’m sorry I wasn’t around to wish you all the best for the festive season, but I hope you experienced something akin to the joy this small act of kindness must have instituted.

I wish you much happiness for 2013 and trust we may spread a little of it to our fellow man as we go about our daily business.

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