Dreaming Of A Snowy Christmas

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Get Ready For Christmas

Whenever you receive a Christmas card, or watch a television Christmas special, there is one thing which seems to unite them all – the presence of snow. This is something that has become as much a part of the Christmas message as anything. Perhaps it is because it looks so welcoming and bright and pure. Perhaps it is because it makes the scene immediately identifiable as a winter one, and therefore links it to Christmas. But there are many people in the English-speaking world who have never seen a White Christmas, and wonder when they will.

It depends, of course, where you live. Because it is in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia has Christmas in the middle of its climatic summer. As well as this, Australia is a temperate country anyway, so the chances of snow at Christmas are roughly equivalent to those of a 100-degree heatwave in New York in January. Even in the United Kingdom, which is known for its cold winters, snow tends to hold off until January for whatever reason. Though cold enough, the snow just doesn’t seem to have that sense of timing.

Nonetheless, whether you live somewhere that gets snow reliably just in the run-up to Christmas and then all the way through, or somewhere where it is unlikely to ever happen, the fact remains that, as a symbol of the day and the period, snow is something that is inextricably linked with Christmas. This holds true wherever you are, and is why we all know what Bing Crosby was singing about.

Is Christmas Just A Time For Children?

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

The older we get, the more Christmas can seem like a holiday which is simply designed to get the maximum amount of money out of our wallets, even as we enjoy the festivities. There will always be some people willing to make a cynical quick buck or two, and this does not help matters. However, the holiday period does certainly have its compensations, and many would say that these multiply when we have children. Children can add a lot to the Christmas experience, rejuvenating the holiday in the eyes of those of us who had felt like giving up the whole jamboree.

For children, Christmas is a time of wonder. It would be churlish to say that this is all because of the presents, but it would also be stretching the bounds of credibility to suggest that the idea of gifts did not play a major part in it. Children are quite materialistic – they will want good gifts, as they have to return to school after the holidays and join in the competition over who got what. But at the same time, the ideal message of Christmas – one of friendship and goodwill – is something that children can spread more thoroughly than anyone.

As adults, there are certain harsh realities which do not go away just because it is Christmas. However, there is a way in which the holiday can make us face these realities with a steely determination that they won’t get the best of us. It may be our children who get the most out of Christmas – but we can get a lot out of it too.

Surveying The Damage – The Post-Christmas Landscape

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

It is not difficult to see why some people question whether they should bother with Christmas in a given year. The magic of Christmas is undeniable for most of us, but it is a magic that works mostly on our perceptions, and does not effect the reality of things when we most need it to. The holiday season makes some demands on us, and although we are happy to meet them, they still need to be addressed when the time comes. Most of us worry about our wallet or our waistline more than anything.

The Christmas period does have a financial impact on almost all of us. Having spent the year being careful with money, making sure that we have enough to get through the week or the month, we arrive in mid-December and it seems like someone has dropped a nuclear bomb into our bank account. Money goes all over the place, and is hard to keep track of. When we sit back after the holiday season is over, we wonder how we are going to pay for everything.

Our waistline can also be a concern, because if there is one thing that sums up Christmas more than the gifts, it is the culinary indulgence. Large platefuls, second helpings and leftovers. Party food, party drink and precious little exercise mean that, all of a sudden, we have gained a few pounds. It is no wonder that most people’s New Year resolution is to go to the gym more. But the truth is that, with forward planning, we can make it all go a bit more smoothly. It just takes determination.

Hosting The Perfect Christmas Party

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

When we look ahead to Christmas, it is often with a sense that we want this one to be the best yet. We plan everything out, we send, accept and reject invitations, and we shop. Then we prepare, we welcome and we say goodbye. Eventually we tidy, and then we look back. With a critical eye we might say that the season was a bit of a disappointment, but mostly we will fondly remember the best of it, and resolve to make sure that the next one lives up to it. This is the challenge that is involved in hosting a Christmas party, and it is a challenge that makes the best of many of us.

The best Christmas party obviously depends upon your target audience. In that target audience may be a bunch of adults, a majority of kids, or any other eclectic mix of different age groups. If it is a party for adults, then the requirements clearly will be somewhat different from a kids’ party – but the fact remains that a happy holiday party will involve something for everyone – and on a budget this can stretch the host to their limits.

The best approach is to consult with a number of people who will be coming to the party. You want to please the greatest number of people that you can, and whether this means buying more drinks than you had planned, hiring a caterer, or anything else, it helps to know what the prevailing feel is.

Liking Christmas TV – More Difficult Than It Should Be

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

When it comes to the day, and the presents have been opened, the dinner eaten and a bottle of something restoring has been poured there is one more thing to do. Sit down in front of the television and select the TV schedule for the evening. Doing this can lead to some debate, as due to the large numbers of people in the room you will find consensus difficult to reach. But the simple fact of the matter is that we will have to reach a decision, and some people are going to be underwhelmed. This is a Christmas tradition.

Some of the programs on the Christmas schedule are, if we are being honest, absolutely atrocious. Due to the premise of the holiday, we have programs which are filled with Christmas references to the detriment of their usual quality. Instead of the well-crafted jokes, the dramatic scenes and the intelligent characterization, we have poorly-marshalled references to the holidays and saccharine storylines which are supposed to be uplifting but really seem cynical.

Of course, by this time we are usually sated by food, drink and the passive happiness of the day, so we will let it go. We end up enjoying it, no matter how much we might cringe. And even if we feel a little bit disappointed in ourselves the fact is that, in the end, we all enjoy feeling part of a Christmas celebration. And if we don’t, most of us have probably received a few DVDs in our gift haul anyway.

Christmas Songs – A Mixed Bag

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

The moment that most people begin to feel that Christmas is really on its way will be the moment when they are walking through a shopping center and they hear one of their favorite Christmas songs. After that point it is hard to resist the fact that the holidays are coming. For many people however, the Christmas music industry is tantamount to the arms trade or drug dealing – a horrible industry that makes money from rotting people’s brains and spreading anger. Of course, that is just the cynicism talking. Everyone has a favorite Christmas song, even if we are loath to admit it.

What we will generally agree on is that there are certain Christmas songs which, if they were sung at any other time of the year, would be the subject of derision and mocking from everyone. They do not need to be named, because we all know them, and by naming them we will inevitably start to hear them in our heads. And that way lies madness. However, some Christmas songs are actually good, independently of the season.

To say which Christmas songs are good would of course start a new debate. But surely, if you open your mind and your heart, you would have to admit that you have a favorite Christmas song. When you are walking through a shopping center and hear the one that you love, it will mark the beginning of the period where you can allow yourself to get excited about the festivities. But by the end of the Christmas period, you will still probably be sick of it.

Decking The Halls And Trimming The Trees

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

Decorations are a major part of Christmas, as we all know. However, there is a tendency among most of us to find the actual act of decorating quite irritating and unpleasant. Not only that, but taking down the decorations when the holiday is over is viewed by many as one of the most depressing pursuits they can think of. Once the decorations are up, it is beautiful to behold, but getting them up there in the first place requires a very patient or persistent individual. For many of us, there is a mounting sense of dread as the time draws near.

Into the attic we go, to find the boxes in which the decorations are stashed. When we take those decorations out of the boxes, we are almost certain to find that the lights are tangled, the tinsel is falling apart and no matter where we look we cannot find the angel. Once everything has been disentangled, trimmed and found, we plug it in and flick the switch, and half the bulbs are not working. By this time, only the most upbeat of celebrants will still be smiling, and everyone else will be suggesting an alternative place for them to stick their angel.

Eventually, it will all be up, and we will look at it and agree that it looks very Christmassy and sweet, and we will let a little bit of light enter our hearts from then until the end of the holiday period. And why do we do this? Because we love Christmas.

When Christmas Gets Hijacked

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

The Christmas holiday has become somewhat commercialized over the years, to the point where a great many people who claim no religious affiliation and would be insulted if you suggested it to them still celebrate it with great enthusiasm due to the presence of presents. This is understandable, and to be honest the whole festival of Christmas is in place as a result of an earlier pagan festival – so to complain about non-religious people celebrating it would be somewhat misplaced. However, there are some people who take cynical manipulation of Christmas to extreme lengths.

This can be seen in the marketing of some films, books and music releases. You will find that in the weeks following Christmas, the new release list will be somewhat threadbare. This is because the organizations responsible for setting release dates will take the films, books and CDs ready for release and line them up for the stores and cinemas in the run-up to the holidays, when people are more likely to spend their money. After Christmas, when money is in shorter supply, the inevitable result is that the schedules will be barren.

Often, these releases will have nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas. Even this, however, is far more acceptable than crowbarring in a mention of Christmas in the title, the storyline or in one of the songs. Although we may all have accepted that the concept of Christmas has been hijacked, some things should remain sacred. Re-releasing a poorly-selling album with a Christmas carol in the track listing – well, that’s just tacky.

It’s Clichéd To Be Cynical At Christmas

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

Christmas is a time of magic for so many people, but there is a tendency among others to look at the whole holiday as a mess of pointless celebration and meaningless spending. The way they look at the holiday goes further than not celebrating it themselves, they will actually openly sneer at other people for celebrating the holiday. This is unfortunate, because for many people the Christmas holiday is something that allows a real warmth to enter their relations with others. Perhaps ideally that warmth should always be there, but having a reminder of it is no bad thing, surely?

The tendency to be cynical about Christmas is something of a result of the overall increase of cynicism in society. We have a tendency to see things for their price and not for their value. We look for ulterior motives in the simplest of actions, and consider what might have motivated people to carry out a random act of kindness. This is a loss of innocence – and although innocence is something that can be dangerous in too-large doses, it is something that is still desirable in some cases.

If you want to opt out of Christmas yourself, then the likelihood is that you have your reasons for doing so. That is more than fair enough. But the people who spend time laughing at others for having a good time at Christmas are really the ones that are missing out. Is there any harm in taking the excuse to enjoy yourself and show goodwill to all?

Gift Concepts To Make The Holiday More Interesting

October 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Get Ready For Christmas

When we are young, Christmas does not need any adornment to make it more exciting. The simple fact is that, hey, it is Christmas! What need is there for more excitement? The truth of the matter is that, as we get older, Christmas can become a little bit stale and boring, and we will look at the idea of Christmas as simply being a time when we spend money without there really being much magic to the holiday. To take some of this jaded approach away from the holiday, it can be a nice idea to put a new slant on the holiday by adding a “concept” to your celebrations.

Sure, for most people Christmas itself is quite enough of a concept. The holiday is something that for so many people is magical. But if a new concept is what you need in order to get excited, then you can look at any of a range of ideas. Some potential ideas along these lines will be, for example, sport or music. If those concepts are too broad it is possible to narrow the niche slightly and make it more novel. If you have a favorite film or play, or a book you enjoy, you can try and incorporate those into your celebrations, decorations and gifts.

This is something that can work particularly well for adults who have no children. Once you have become a parent, the whole magic of Christmas kicks off again, because it is the novelty of the holiday that really makes it for most.

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