It’s Christmas Day.

On the kitchen table is a Debenhams carrier bag the size of a small tent. It’s full of brightly wrapped presents, including one that took Alex a heck of a lot longer to wrap than the 10.3 nano-seconds it will take little Florence to unwrap. (It’s a toy treehouse, but don’t worry about spoiling her surprise – she can’t read yet. And, even if she could, I doubt whether her mother would let her on this site!) Later today we will set off  to see one of my sisters and then to Alex’s parents for distribution of aforementioned presents and a rather large lunch. Just like the last ten Christmasses.

The news this year has been full of reports of how tough things are. The economic climate has damped the rampant consumerism so much encouraged since the 80s and I’m far from convinced that that is altogether a bad thing. OK, I know that it affects jobs, but there is a small hope that it might actually bring people back to their senses – to realise that there is more to life than the latest video game or a pair of trainers.

Yesterday the BBC carried two reports that contrast very sharply two sides of human nature. Here’s the first – Clicky.

People so self absorbed that they will resort to physical violence in pursuit of the latest must have item. The new human condition in all its disgusting glory.

And here’s the second – Clicky.

The human condition at its best. But what makes this man newsworthy is that he is, sadly, the exception.

There’s a clear comparison to be made with Scrooge – a rather misunderstood character to whom I get likened almost every year. (You see, I don’t like Christmas all that much – although it’s more accurate to say that I don’t like the run up to Christmas. I don’t like all the false bonhomie, the hypocrisy and cant that go with it.) Anyone who’s actually read A Christmas Carol, rather than just watched the films, will know that Scrooge doesn’t just “learn to love Christmas”, but sees his life for what it was – miserable and miserly. Christmas is not the reason for his change, but merely the vehicle Dickens uses to effect his redemption.

From about October onwards the advertisers drip-feed us a stylised version of the perfect Christmas – the glorious bronzed turkey, the happy smiling children, the whole kit and caboodle. But I’m acutely aware that, for many people today, this will end up as a distant pipe dream – whether it’s a Denise Royle floundering in her own incompetence and spoiled brattedness, or a relationship where the Christmas wrap isn’t thick enough to paper over the cracks, or one of the 1,500 families in the UK destined to spend today mourning the loss of a loved one.

I’m fortunate enough to have the love of a wonderful man.

Christmas day is a day on which I can take stock.

  • I’m fortunate enough to come from a generation that has never experienced the destruction of all out war.
  • I’m fortunate enough to still be in reasonably good health.
  • I’m fortunate enough to still have a job.
  • I’m fortunate enough to still have a roof over my head and to be able to afford a few small gifts with which to honour those who matter to me.
  • I’m fortunate enough to spend today with people who, despite our differences over the years, DO still matter and care.
  • I’m fortunate enough to have the love of a wonderful man.

Yes, today I count my blessings – and you should too.

Merry Christmas.