The Run up to Indulgence
In the run up to Christmas I have, for the sake of tradition, been dragging baubles and branches into the house, along with a hugely oversized freshly cut Christmas tree. For the first time ever though, I have suffered huge guilt about the tree. It must be about the same age as my son who hacked it down in the woods with great gusto. It would have inspired ‘Oh Tannenbaum’ if the song hadn’t already been written: ‘Christmas Tree oh Christmas tree, you give us so much pleasure’. And it remains beautiful inside the house, even though it’s now in the process of dying which seems a bit, well, un-festive really.
And although I’m in touch with my Neanderthal roots (Europeans all have a bit of them in us – fact), I have to say I’m a bit uncomfortable with how easily I go out and ‘gather’ bright thing to decorate my cave, I mean semi-detached Victorian house, with. What on earth is going on? I get so much pleasure from the preparations but then I feel slightly tainted. Like I’m giving into a hugely conventional and rather base drive that fuels the gross and epic consumer-fest that is Christmas. And of course the whole shebang is even more guilt-ridden given the flow of news about families just like us living on the edge with nothing, or worse under constant threat and fielding hatred coming at them from all sides.
So it is that with my very lucky life I step out onto the estate carriage path with some friends to clear my head. It’s only when I’m in direct contact with the natural world that the tainted feeling vanishes and I remember that all the festivities, whether, Christian, Pagan or Hindu, at this time of year, are about bringing light into the dark months, bringing fire, heat and colour into a landscape that’s gone to sleep in sepia tones. Then it’s possible to remember life going on. And hey, any excuse to create a space where friends and family can indulge, play board games and do puzzles all the while attempting to get on.
I think the only approach for me is to feel intense gratitude, then keep some money back to send to those who have very little to be grateful for. Difficult combination, feeling hugely grateful and hugely sad and empathetic, but I think perhaps that’s one of the most important things to do at this time of year, as was ever thus……..
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