Thursday, 27 December 2012
What I love about Christmas is the way that it has become a celebration of children and childhood, despite the rampaging commercialism and materialism that are slathered over it by the bucketload. This was first pointed out to me by an Israeli I met around 8 years ago, and every year I am reminded of it. In his words, "I love Christmas, it is like a celebration of childhood, I wish we had something like it at home".
I often think about this and how true this is if you just look at things from a slightly different angle, and if anything the biggest parts of childhood that are celebrated are trust and innocence.
What do I mean? Well even in these paranoid times it's OK for young children to go up to a total stranger and sit on their knee to talk to them at Christmas, and that it's OK for us to tell the children that said stranger will then come into their bedrooms late at night after breaking into the house to bring them sweets and gifts.
Can you imagine doing and saying those things at any other time of the year? Children going off to talk to a stranger is the stuff of most parents' nightmares (let alone their child trying to sit on a stranger!), and similarly, sneaking into childrens' bedrooms at night tends to be an unpopular choice of activity for adults. But at Christmas it's all OK, because the stranger in question will be bearing gifts and sweets for the children (provided that the children have been 'good')! Compare that the 'stranger danger' message that we give throughout the rest of the year.
Yes, this is the commercial side of Christmas, yes it's materialistic, but look at what underlies it.
Spending a Christmas with my young niece and nephew (5 and 7 respectively) showed me this "celebration of childhood" again this year, after all the unwrapping was done and the dinner was eaten all my niece wanted to do was wear a "princess dress". My nephew? All he wanted to do was go outside and kick a ball around, because he'd been promised he could do that every day while he was off school.