23 December 2011


Here in Chorley, the supermarkets will be closed on Christmas Day. Yes, you've heard it right. Closed. All day.

As I write, the news appears to have spread far and wide. People are sitting in cars waiting to join the queue to crawl around the car park looking for a space.

Shelves are being emptied faster than pimply youths can fill them up. Items of dubious quality and doubtful value are being snapped up, thrown into trolleys and buried beneath shiny things from the seasonal goods aisle.

You are getting a first hand account from a man only recently returned from his own foray. The harassed checkout clerk told me it is Mad Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Tomorrow may, however, be worse. And I have to return.

Despite buying most of what was on my list, it turns out that this document was by no means exhaustive and lacked certain essential items which are needed for Christmas Dinner. I'm talking vegetables here. I also need two cat presents and a box of cereals. Ah well, I'll make an early start tomorrow.

All this buying leads me to contemplate the whole Christmas process. All the excitement and expense, all the effort and anticipation followed by anxiety and disappointment.

Everyone has to be happy at Christmas, even if they don't feel happy, they have to pretend in case they spoil everyone else's joy.

Everyone has to be grateful for each inappropriate gift and smile through the sadness of money ill-spent.

I have spent many Christmases in fear of unhappiness and discord. I have felt responsibility for the wellbeing of everyone around me. Not concern, not compassion but responsibility. As if I can somehow make everyone else's Christmas a happy one.

This Christmas, I am content. I have bought some interesting presents that will make my family smile. I have, as usual, sent very few Christmas cards yet continue to receive many.

Christmas is looking good from here, even if there may be no vegetables for dinner. As long as we have crackers and pigs in blankets, it will be glorious.

Happy Christmas, everyone. Or not, if you prefer.