Remember the real reason for Christmas

By Eva Bradley

I'm sorry. There. It's out there. For my friends, my family, my clients, my cleaner, the guy who found my lost car keys way back in winter and even the wonderful sub-editors who spot my spelling mistakes and fix my grammar in these very column inches.

All of you deserve a Christmas card from me, none of you are getting one, and for that I am truly sorry.

There are all sorts of excuses and - even better - what I like to call "valid reasons" (though essentially it's the same thing) for why despite the best of intentions every year, I never get around to sending cards.

The best one is that, as a wedding and portrait photographer, I am always knee-deep in tulle and baby vomit at this time of year, recording big family events and tiny new additions.

The sad truth is, though, that we are never too busy to do what is truly important. It is just that the unrelenting pressures of work and life force us to prioritise the things other people want and need from us instead of what we need for ourselves.

Once upon a time in a land far, far away when we shut up shop at 5pm sharp every night, all weekend and for a good couple of weeks over Christmas and New Year, there lived a group of New Zealanders who were happy and stress-free, bought and sent bright sparkly Christmas cards and had their presents (which weren't from The Warehouse) wrapped beautifully and arranged neatly under the tree a week out from the big day.

Now thanks to "progress" (and with it a mentality that we should all be able to get everything we want from any business we want whenever we want it) most of us are so busy working and trying to get everything completed in time for Christmas, that the idea of finding time to write and send cards to everyone who deserves them is impossible to imagine.

The best I can hope for is to make a mad dash to The Warehouse or any other business that keeps its staff working till midnight on Christmas Eve in the vain hope of getting meaningful presents and the last dregs of festive wrapping to put them in.

The irony is that in a bid to make our lives "easier" by keeping business open up to and often through the holiday season, we have all found ourselves working in those businesses and therefore unable to enjoy what should be a relaxing and happy time of year.

While we all talk about the weather in the months of January through to November, the token question when we ask each other in December is "are you ready for Christmas?".

Since no one ever answers, the question is silly and annoying but I'm as guilty as the next person in asking.

And the reaction whenever I do is often the same - a haunting look of anxious pain slides over the faces of those I'm talking to, followed by an admission that they have been so busy they haven't even had a chance to think about Christmas yet, let alone prepare for it.

We are all in such a rush these days that even the word "Christmas" has been shortened to a much more efficient "Xmas", with all those who use the word failing to register that in doing so they've axed the very thing the holiday was originally intended for: a celebration of the birth of Christ.

I'm not especially religious and I am not advocating we all line up for midnight mass, but is it too much to ask that we get the chance to slow down enough to enjoy the sense of family that was once what Christmas was all about, instead of feeling it is yet another of life's stressful events to endure until the next one?

- Wanganui Chronicle

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