Yes, I know it's rather early to be considering Christmas, although you wouldn't think so from the shops but, if I've got my act together, the October half term is the time I start to get the ball rolling. I look through cookery books and make jars of mincemeat and maybe even the cake. This year I'm going to have to maybe go a step or two further as we've decided to Do December Differently.
I love Christmas and have happy memories of celebrations as a child in India, as a student in Edinburgh and France, as a young adult in London and as a parent in Bristol. What made these occasions special was marking the birth of Christ with the community in which I lived. Sure, there were carols and lights and trees and pudding and champagne and presents, but at the heart of it were friends and family and a new life.
Recently I have become overwhelmed by the growing commercialisation of Christmas, and the pressure to organise the 'perfect' celebration has threatened to ruin the whole event. So when I came across Doing December Differently - an alternative Christmas handbook by Nicola Slee and Rosie Miles I ordered myself a copy. It promised an exploration of how to celebrate Christmas with 'integrity and simplicity' and a solution to the 'intolerable strain' and the 'false and oppressive myths of the ideal family life'. I have read the book and passed it on, having made a note of some of the suggestions it makes. I hope this Christmas will be another one I will look back on with happiness.