I CAN'T find a parking spot, can't find anything my wife might like, can't believe it's that time of year again. It's the week before Christmas
I love it! I will not be depressed that I've sent Christmas cards to less than 5% of those kind people who have sent cards to us. I've forgiven shops for blatantly exploiting the Christmas season ever since soon after Easter.
I've forgiven our daughter for going on holiday leaving her cat with us. She will return, thankfully, to share the usual absurdly large Christmas dinner her mother will cook for us.
Why do I love it? I love it because of people like Jane.
Who is Jane? I know nothing about her except that she sells chocolates at a shop in Grand Central. Most of us know it as Darrell Lea but it's now called Sweet Stop.
I was there last Saturday, buying the usual selection of chocolates, jelly beans and other tooth-rotters that put blood sugar levels into over-drive.
I get my usual selection on the assumption any confectionary that expensive must be excellent quality and sugar-free (at least in principle). It will be exactly what the family needs as reward for the superb presents they surely will give me next Tuesday.
So I stagger up to Jane, arms full of sugar. She's known to me only by the name on her badge and a face that is familiar from about this time last year. I expect nothing except that she will smile at me, tell me how much it's going to cost me and whack it all into an impressively large bag.
Sure, she does all those things. Then she tells me she reads my columns and thinks they are "getting better".
I'm really flattered, especially when she clarifies what she meant was "they were always good, but they are even better lately". She explains she particularly likes it when a column isn't really about anything but still tells a story ... I like that!
I thank her profusely, resist the temptation to buy three additional bars of fruit and nut and get all flustered. I flash the plastic, forget my pin number and comprehensively stuff the transaction. She forgives me and encourages me to "give it another go". She even suggests "there could be a column in all of this" and I tend to agree.
I explain to her that most of what I write has no measurable content but some people seem to enjoy reading the stuff nearly as much as I enjoy writing it.
We wish each other the compliments of the season and I tell her I'm off home to write a column with zero content but maximum appeal.
Christmas is like that.
I can't get worked up about Midnight Mass from the Vatican or anywhere else but the chance to have a conversation with nice people and enjoy peaceful times with one's family are priceless. These opportunities are not explicitly Christian but they do seem to be enhanced and facilitated by the Christmas season.
If we all allowed ourselves to be caught up in those aspects of the celebration of Christ's birth that encourage goodwill, our lives would be more fulfilling. I know that sounds all woolly and a bit soppy but there's nothing wrong with that.
It seems normal to me that Christmas is a mixture of worship, celebration, sentimentality, reminiscence, reflection, melancholy and fun. My "lapsed Anglican" background provides a very loose framework within which to look for the best in folk, with tolerance of diversity of belief.
I'm in danger of putting content into this column.
Happy Christmas to Jane who got me started on this and all who have bothered to read my content-free columns throughout the year.
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