The Christmas Contagion


Apparently, I come across as a bit “anti-people” in my writings, and possibly in my day to day mutterings. While this has some truth to it, I hasten to add that this is not my natural inclination. As time goes on, I find more and more people to be increasingly boorish, rude and superficial. That’s all.  During this festive season however, everything changes. For the better, it always seems. Kindness and good humour creep back into people’s actions and behaviour. Smiles abound, and there are people embracing each other with shouts of glee everywhere you look. Pub tables glow with goodwill and cheer as friends and family gather, home from away, their eyes glistening with comfort and joy.  I’m perfectly willing to admit that this also happens to me. When out and about, I’m keenly aware of a light burble inside me that gives way to “Happy Christmases” and smiles and softens me towards the pram bullies and yobs around me. Something about Christmas makes us gooey and soft inside, and we go about spilling the season’s sentiments all over the place. What is it about Christmas that suddenly makes us nicer, better, more tolerant people? We adopt a thought process that makes us want to right wrongs and disclose secret loves at this time of year. Why? The answer we give is: just because it’s Christmas. Practically the entire film of “Love Actually” is built around the idea that we get some kind of carte blanche at Christmas, and only at Christmas.

As far as regrets go, I’m a firm believer in having no regrets. No matter how scary it may be, you should make amends, tell your friend you’ve always been in love with them, admit to having stolen her jumper, apologise to whomever you feel you have wronged. I try and do these things because I know I may never get another chance. You never know what tomorrow will bring. And what’s the Dr. Pepper worst that can happen? You make a fool of yourself, get rejected, have to be forgiven. You might gain something wonderful out of it. But it is true that this attitude is easier at Christmas, because of aforementioned spirit filling everyone. There is greater tolerance, and so less to be afraid of. Sitting on a train one day, I asked the Polisher if he felt that way about Christmastide.

“No,” he said bluntly. “There’s every opportunity the rest of the time for that kind of thing.”

On paper he seems correct, but it’s a bit harsh. Christmas is a poignant time of year. It’s a time when memories flood back more strongly, where the world itself is more redolent of emotions. We remember the lost, the fallen, old loves and new loves, good times and bad times. Christmas gives us hope. As the gateway to a new year, we are led to behave more compassionately, to see the good in things, to push aside the material burdens. We take stock of ourselves, and try to readdress our failings. Whether or not we succeed, this window of introspection is good for the soul.  So yes, in an ideal world, we should do the right thing all year round, but that isn’t how we operate.

To those who don’t “do” Christmas, citing materialism and false veneer, let’s not confuse man made things with the spirit of the season. In a world where we have so  little simplicity and purity left, we should embrace the beauty of the Yuletide, and try to hold on to a shred of it until the next one arrives. A very Happy Christmas to you all.


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