Christmas is coming and the guilt is piling up thick and fast. No office parties in case we upset any non-Christian colleagues - just when office parties were deeply religious affairs I can't recall. No Christmas greetings on cards from the Red Cross in case anyone thinks they are in any way associated with Christian symbolism. All my friends are buying their grandchildren sheep and chickens and goats, only the grandchildren don't actually receive anything except a message that some child in Africa or India is enjoying their gift.
Wandering around the local shopping mall, I'm struck by the contrast between the gaudy, expensive, indulgent displays and the background music. The goods might tell you to 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas' and to 'Deck the halls' but the songs ask 'Do they know it's Christmas?' and other such guilt-ridden sentiments.
I don't mind being asked to remember the poor and homeless and disadvantaged at Christmas. I do mind hypocrisy. If the shopkeepers promised to give 10% of their Christmas profits to worthy causes, I might forgive their maudlin music (well almost!). Buying a goat for a family in Africa is a great idea but why do I have to do it at Christmas and why do I have to disappoint a member of my own family to do it?
Vera Lynn ruined my childhood Christmases with 'The little boy that Santa Claus forgot'. My son's greatest disappointment when he was six was tearing open the beautifully wrapped parcel from his grandma to find socks and underpants! Well, I say enough! Let's celebrate with cheerful songs, frivolous gifts, good food and wine and, above all, guilt-free enjoyment of our plenty.
Happy Christmas to everyone!