Tuesday, 9 December 2014
Will it Be Lonely This Christmas? Ho Ho Ho or Hu- Hu- Humbug?
“It’s coming on Christmas, they’re cutting down trees, they’re putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace. I wish I had a river I could skate away on.” Joni Mitchell knew a thing or two about Christmas in my view. Although she goes on to sing about lost love in her song ”River” and her own failings, the mention of reindeer and singing are just as important for many people who find this time of year less than easy to get through, for whatever reason.
You don’t find “River” featured on many editions of The Best Christmas Album In the World, Ever. It’s not exactly uplifting and although the beginning of the song pays homage to Jingle Bells there’s no other evidence of jingling, bells, tinsel or untold joy, so I suppose even I have to be admit this song would be a tough sell to record executives targeting the Office Christmas Party market.
Shots, Santa, Snogging, More Shots. Now that's what I call Christmas (at the office)
Yes, River is rather unique as a Christmas song, and in one more that I can think of: it tells the truth about Christmas. There are people putting up decorations, but there are also people struggling to get through December and the holiday season.
One in four people are suffering from a mental illness right now. Which one is it?
This year, mental health charity Mind is targeting loneliness as the theme of its Christmas appeal. It makes the point that loneliness takes many forms, but the key point of all is this: you do not have to be alone to feel lonely at Christmas. Someone who has recently lost someone or has had a change of circumstances might feel lonely; but perhaps someone, or many ‘someones’, are at one of those office parties feeling like the most isolated person in the world, despite the laughing, raucous crowds around them.
For the last few years Christmas has needed to come earlier for many, I have felt. As soon as Halloween is out of the way Christmas lights, advent calendars, chocolate of course, and booze, booze, booze foretells the coming not of a child or a miracle, but the pressure to consumer more, earlier, for longer.
Poorer, more pressurised, but pretty. Pretty dangerous to think spending can make us happy.
The recession has left us poorer and more pressurised. Christmas advertisements proclaim omnipresent happiness mandatory for all, and party on party is presented in ever increasing displays of glamour and splendour. Viewers may not be dashing through the snow, but through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yes, even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in the UK we’re grasping its commerciality by both reins.
Our ability to live up to the commercial expectations we might put on ourselves dwindles with the rate of inflation year on year. However, with money such an unfashionable topic of polite conversation, I’m guessing that none of the parties being created in real life to mimic the fiction of advertising include discussions of money troubles. Hardly talk of a Christmas Carol, more like Hard Times. And what we have to hide through all of this, and pretend through makes us all lonely.
A Christmas Carol. Hard Times for Some.
My hope is that Christmas will not lead us to want to skate away but to experience Christmas realistically, or in whatever way not to make us poorer or sadder than we would anyway be. So, no jingle bells perhaps; no skating. I’d settle for a silent night.