Christmas is just around the corner, and I am so excited!
Whenever Christmas comes up in conversation, I feel compelled to announce that it is my favourite time of year. At the thought of Christmas, my brain is instantly flooded with warm fuzzy thoughts of flickering candles, atmospheric music, glittering baubles and shaggy rugs draped loosely on otherwise austere furniture. I love that giddy feeling that overwhelms you when Christmas decorations appear and most of all, I treasure the whimsical Christmas greetings that you exchange with strangers whom you would otherwise have ignored, or even regarded as pick-pocket suspects, during any other month of the year.
My fondest memories of the Christmas season are from the years when we used to wait for the lights on Regent Street to be turned on, so as to officially let the countdown to Christmas begin. A trip to Hamleys would also be a treat, when the manic toy displays set against their magical Christmas decorations would totally transport our 20-year old beings to a gleeful ageless state where the toy train circling on its tracks would suddenly seem as exciting as guzzling down tequila shots in a nightclub.
With Christmas just around the corner, one can finally breathe a sigh of relief that the incessant internal battle to resist putting up the Christmas tree prematurely is at last coming to an end. There are so many versions of the correct time to put up the Christmas tree, ranging from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve itself, depending on what Christmas means to you and your family. For myself, I simply apply the most practical approach – that is, to put it up as early as possible without feeling stupid. And when it does, my house transforms from a home in the tropics to a sparkling white, gold and silver wonderland with splashes of green from pine leaves and dollops of red festive decorations scattered here and there, putting a smile on any face that walks through the door.
I honestly think whoever invented Christmas is a genius. (This is a joke of course, I know full well that Christmas was invented by Santa Claus). And this ingenuity manifests itself most in the joys of gift giving.
I love buying presents for people. Without sounding cliche, I truly believe that Christmas makes you feel appreciative of the ability to give and make people happy. The excitement of watching everyone open their presents all at once, without having to wait for their individual birthdays to roll around, totally does it for me. It is often the case that the person giving the present is more excited than the recipient, and I suspect this may be very true for me.
I try to buy Christmas presents throughout the year, stocking up in advance so long as I am satisfied that the packaging will behave and stay intact while patiently waiting for Christmas. I can then relax and enjoy the run up to Christmas, while watching others desperately dart around shops stressed and dazed in their bid to find last minute presents. Of course, coordinated wrapping paper is a must too. There is nothing worse than an empty tree, except for a laden tree with a sorrowful stack of haphazard presents, engulfed in totally mismatched wrapping paper, sitting beneath it. Ikea facilitates this best, selling stylish and coordinated Christmas wrapping sets for a very reasonable price. Indeed, a trip to Ikea upon hearing that the Christmas stock has arrived is yet another highlight of my year.
When everything has been set up, you can finally let yourself get lost in the festive spirit. It is funny that home can so convincingly feel like a cozy corner of a winter wonderland when it is in fact thirty odd degrees outside, and how curious it is that the same red and gold that magically floats as baubles on the Christmas tree are the very same colours overpowering your every sense during Chinese New Year. Both renditions of this colour palette transport you to such different emotional places, but then again, maybe it is all to achieve the same ends.
I even found an article promoting the Feng Shui Fire element to balance against the cold Christmas season in the form of candles, a fireplace, Christmas lights and red and gold ornaments. How amazing it is that the same colours contribute to positivity and all things good throughout the year, be it in the form of luck, prosperity, peace, joy or harmony.
And Christmas is certainly full of the latter. Whether motivated by religion, culture or just jumping on the festive bandwagon, Christmas has become the epitome of family togetherness. There are those who use it as an excuse for a family holiday, and families who converge from near and far to gather around the tree at home by Christmas Eve. Either way, Christmas is a great mechanism for bringing the family together. Not to mention the weeks of fun for children in the run up to Christmas – from writing letters to Santa, to going to visit him personally in shopping malls, to rummaging through stockings he has left for them because they duly completed their homework.
I have to admit that one of the biggest disappointments of my life was learning that Santa does not come down the chimney after all. However, I eventually came to terms with this when I realised that it was because there are simply no chimneys in the tropics. Perhaps, for my love of the Christmas season and to ensure that Santa faces no logistical problems, it is time to think about moving somewhere cold, with chimneys.