Old traditions die hard

I have noticed that many of us are very particular and indeed sentimental about Christmas. We’re all very emotionally attached  to our own family traditions and when people from different families come together, for example when they get married, there’s a very interesting little bit of jockeying that goes on as to which partner’s Christmas traditions prevail.  Real tree or artificial tree? Full-on bling or understated decorations? Presents for everybody or a restricted list? Carols from Kings or the Strictly Special? It’s complicated when two young people get together but the whole things goes to another level when Father Christmas (or perhaps Santa in your household?) and a whole new raft of decisions come into the picture.

Obviously, the way I do Christmas is the RIGHT way! Somehow, it’s very satisfying when you see your own offspring wanting to carry on some of the traditions that you have observed.

But some things that I have considered unbreakable traditions are disintegrating before my very eyes.

For instance, Christmas cards. I would say in the last five years the number of Christmas cards that I get has halved. Now, I am prepared to consider that it may be something to do with being a bit more anti-social as I get older, but according to official statistics about Christmas mail it’s a national trend. I have completely mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand I cannot think why on earth we send so many. We send them to people we lost touch with long ago (why?) and to people we see three times a day (why?) and even to people we don’t like much. And yet I’ve come to regard it as an essential part of Christmas and giving and receiving Christmas cards makes me somehow feel in touch with the human race. I’d love to hear what a psychologist or a sociologist would have to say on the matter. But for me, I’ll probably be giving Christmas cards out long after everybody else has stopped!

And while we’re on Christmas cards, how do you feel when you get an e-mail Christmas card? Especially when the giver makes you feel all guilty because they tell you the money they would have spent on cards has been donated to charity. I’ll be honest; I’m not a fan, although I’m all up for supporting charities.

Where do you stand on those Christmas round Robin letters that many people send out to their friends? These usually tell of overachieving children, fabulous holidays and sometimes make me feel that my life is a little humdrum? Actually, I quite like these as it’s a good way of keeping up with what old friends are up to. In fact, I write one every year, proudly boasting of my children’s achievements and describing the holidays, comings and goings of the Jenkins household. So guilty as charged on this one.

Jumpers. Yes, we need to talk about Jumpers. Now at the risk of being a festive party pooper, the whole jumper’s thing carries a legacy I cannot get out of my head. When I was young, back in the days of the Flintstones, it was so uncool to have a gaudy Christmas sweater; it was the stuff of sitcom parody. In fact for most of my life it was virtually impossible to buy one.  And then, it became an “ironic Christmas sweater” self-consciously parodying the parody. Now it’s just mainstream. I say “Bah humbug” even though I wouldn’t consign them to Room 101.

All of which goes to show. I still like my Christmas a la 1968!

But even if you do unspeakable things like sending e-Christmas cards, it is, of course, still the season of goodwill and I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

In Community

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