During the hours and the days of November and December, there is always this energy in the air that can be felt and which can intoxicate people in many ways, and which can bring out the best in people - love, charity, friendship, family - and which can also, sometimes, bring out the worst in people - competitiveness, jealousy, inferiority - and it is during the Christmas period that people behave in ways they never would at any other time of the year. Christmas should be a happy time when people think about one another - however there are moments when some people can become overly self-conscious and they can believe that something that they have must be "better" than what everybody else has in order for it to be considered "good"... November to December should be when family is more important and everybody is thankful for who and what they have in their life... the "holiday season" - as it is known - is and should be when there are literal and poetic examples of hopefulness and light on show from morning till night. Every year everybody around the world participates in traditions and customs that can only be practiced at a particular time, for particular reasons, during which and because of the meaning of different seasons - and depending on what time of the year it is some things are considered obligatory and a "must"... every year everybody slowly but surely changes their demeanor and sometimes they can even change the way that they think and react to certain things - and there are times when ordinarily calm and collected individuals can find themselves switching to a version of their personality who voluntarily runs, and sometimes even fights, with those that are also in the midst of the "red mist" of the annual "mad rush".
This Christmas, at least here in the UK, it is going to be hard to keep the lights on within some houses because of the high price of electricity that some households are going to be forced to have to pay... this Christmas people young and old are literally going to have to sit in the dark with no heating on and they are literally going to have to wrap themselves in blankets to keep warm, because they know that they will be unable to afford the total owed on their eventual electricity bill... this Christmas, more so than ever before, people are going to have to choose between buying presents for loved ones or putting some money aside for when the energy companies say that it is time to pay up... this Christmas people are going to sacrifice their health, because they will be unable to have what they need to get well when they ultimately fall ill... this Christmas people will have to make choices that will have long-term consequences... this Christmas people will have to think even more about what they are spending and how much things cost... this Christmas people will have to make the most of what they have, because this Christmas everything is going to be expensive... this Christmas people will have to be creative and imaginative in many ways as they gather around their Christmas tree and they struggle to keep the lights on.
Christmas is a time, Christmas is a season, Christmas is like a tide that slowly rises, overwhelms, and then recedes in the wake of a new year descending... Christmas is different every year for everyone who celebrates it. Christmas can be a different experience depending on how old someone is - when we are young Christmas is a series of magical moments, including: meeting someone dressed in a red suit with a white beard, making a list of things that we want, and receiving presents of all shapes and sizes; but, as we get older, as life goes on, and as we lose people who have always been special to us, Christmas can be a time of reflection, sadness, regret, and longing for what was and missing those who we have lost. Christmas can be a wonderful crossroads of feelings and emotions, of family, of friends, of making the most of what you have, of accepting what are you gifted, and of capturing the spirit of celebration that fills every street and the rooms of every house all around the world... Christmas is when love can be shown and shared... Christmas is when people have to think about others and truly show that they care... Christmas is about the build up to December the 25th - more so, perhaps, that the day itself... Christmas is sometimes more about following long established traditions - whether they are religious in nature, consumeristic, or of keeping alive the memory of people who to us will live on in our mind and in our heart and whose photos will remain long after we take down the festive cards we have received from their shelves. This Christmas, like every Christmas, we all hope for the best and wish to be blessed... this Christmas, like every Christmas, we all sometimes want what we can't have... this Christmas, like every Christmas, people listen to Christmas songs, people watch Christmas movies, and people don Christmas themed attire that they may have been waiting all year to wear every time they have got dressed... every Christmas it is important to make yourself happy, as well as make other people happy, because without thinking outloud and without expressing yourself then it wouldn't truly be Christmas - so give yourself a present, celebrate how you want, and perhaps reach out a hand to others and give them the gift of you this Christmas.
As so often happens, I was sitting at my usual table in Starbucks when a song that I had never heard by one of my favourite artists - the one and the only "Man in Black", Johnny Cash - started to play... the song was "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day" - and as soon as I heard this Christmas carol in its own right that blessed all who heard it "peace on Earth" and "goodwill to men", I started to think about the true meaning of the season and why music has always been an important way for families and individuals to say what they want to say to one another. Music is just as fundamental to some as living is to breathing for others... the voice of a singer can break down barriers and unite people from many countries, with many accents, with many back stories - who can all find times to set aside their differences whenever they come together and stop and listen to someone with a message they felt within their heart as well as within their mind that someone else needed to hear. Christmas songs are only played at this time of the year, and every year new songs are written and recorded by artists that dream of being number one and perhaps remembered as fondly as those that repeatedly return to our ears year after year; however, I would say there are only a handful of Christmas songs that are enjoyed, replayed, and loved by many: John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over), "Last Christmas" by Wham!, "White Christmas" as sung by Bing Crosby, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid, "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues, and, of course, "All I Want For Christmas Is You" by Mariah Carey - because these songs have over time become quintessential in capturing the Christmas spirit like no others are able to, and personally all these songs always put a smile on my face every time I hear them and make me more and more ready for Christmas and overflowing with Christmas cheer.
I don't remember my first Christmas; but then again, who does? However, I will always remember the first Christmases of others - and Christmas this year will always be special to me, because this year will be the first Christmas of the boy who smiles at me every time I smile at him: my new nephew, Milo. I envy my nephew, because every day he gets to experience things for the first time in his life - and very soon he will get to meet Father Christmas, he will get to receive his first Christmas presents, and he will be able to go out into the snow with his parents and help them build a snowman. This year will be the first time in a long time that our family has welcomed a new addition - and what better time is there for all of us to gather together and around the embodiment of our family's love and affection who is in our eyes nothing short of being an angel who we love nothing more than to see happy and smiling from ear to ear. This year has been a roller-coaster for many people around the world; but, for my family, my nephew Milo has been the miracle that I always knew he would be to us from the moment that he was born - and even though I know that he probably wont remember any of this time when he is older, I hope that he will always think back and know that he was always loved and that if our family had anything to say about it then Milo's first Christmas would be a time in all of our lives that we would never forget.