It’s a bit strange isn’t it really that 2 days in a year, everything goes completely insane? As the final month of the year appears, we are absolutely inundated with Christmas. The menu’s, the perfectly decorated house, Christmas Tree, Dinner Table where we will all stuff ourselves like all the turkeys that end up in the oven, and then collapse down on the sofa to watch ‘The Sound of Music’ for the millionth time. That is Christmas everyone. And no matter what has been going on for the rest of the year, this is the 2-day time slot to make everything perfect. And on all scores.

When I first came to live in The Netherlands a few decades ago, there was hardly anything to do with Christmas in the shops. People celebrated the children’s feast of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas, a Turkish born saint who lived in Spain) who travelled with his Moorish helpers (known as Black Peter’s) and brought oranges and presents for children. Nowadays it is considered highly racist to call his helpers – Black Peters – and many ‘movements’ are calling to abolish this now. Oh, come on, this is a celebration for children and not meant to be racist in any way whatsoever. People known as Moor’s (probably coming from Morocco) just had a slightly darker skin color and it is not racist or even suggestive of slavery at all.

I remember wandering around one the major shops in the Hague for Christmas decorations, my first Christmas (or I should say pre-Christmas) here. On the top floor one tiny department which had decorations and I remember buying a small tree somewhere as there weren’t Christmas Tree farms or lots in those days. Strange then how something which to me was so traditional (having been born in the UK) was so lacking over here.

And how things have changed over the years. The 5th of December Sinterklaas feast is not really celebrated a lot anymore. It is now full on into Christmas starting at the end of November. Nonstop Christmas music on Sky Radio, that I have gone almost dizzy ‘driving home around in circles for Christmas’ and ‘rocking myself around the Christmas Tree’. I must admit as a child I loved Christmas and all the build up to it. However, when you find out, (the biggest downer ever), that Santa Claus is a magical imaginary figure, in some or other way, the magic goes… or not? I believe in magic.

Magic is the catalyst to making miracles happen, that is what one of my friends says and I agree. It is good to have a little magic in our lives, living in the hurly fast pace burly lifestyle that we do. Shopping is now mostly all online. People don’t actually go to the shops to do their Christmas shopping, or do they? I know all of mine is done online these days, mainly because I don’t want to be in the crowds of grumpy bad-tempered shoppers. All food shopping ordered on time, online, you have to make sure early that you get your chosen delivery spot.

This year in the little village where I live there was a Christmas Market. A few stalls with Christmassy bits and pieces, and as Michael McIntyre says: ‘boiled red wine’ (Gluhwein) and nice things to eat. There were bouncy castles for the kids, a snowman, pony rides and the best of all, a ride with a horse pulling a sleigh. (on wheels of course as there was not any snow), but it had jingle bells ringing and it made me think of my carefree childhood once again. The tree lighting ceremony was late afternoon and village children had made baubles. It is almost as if you stepped into one of the Hallmark Christmas feel good movies, which we all have watched. Because, hey it’s December and the normal TV is such rubbish, we all want that feel good romcom moment, don’t we?

However, wouldn’t it be something to think about if Christmas and the feelings that go with it, were everyday each year. I don’t particularly mean the decorations but more the feeling of goodwill towards one another. Love towards one another and being kind and considerate to one another. I wonder how many of you will be sitting around your Christmas dinner table with relatives who you don’t either see for the rest of the year, or relatives you prefer never to see again? Weird, isn’t it?

All in all, I feel that there is so much negative energy in the global field. So much! Virtually nothing happens without a barrage of negative comments from literally everyone, because yes, we may have our own opinion, but do we have to write it down in public. By this I mean the slagging off that goes on on social media. How many times have you, like me, asked yourself, do you really want to be on the social media train. A constant flow of boring old adverts from drop shippers selling highly priced rubbish, which often never even turns up, or the endless Tik Tok reels of utterly boring Insta Influencers! Do we care? It seems that the majority do and follow avidly and I truly wonder why? Why don’t we put ourselves first. Learn to love ourselves again and then send out the vibe to others? Isn’t that the way forward out of this chaos? I think so.

This year I made several of my Christmas wreaths, which I love to do, I find a different theme every year, then out into the garden with my secateurs, collecting greenery and berries, then wind it all around a straw wreath and decorate with baubles, tinsel, lights, and ribbons. A few of my friends and family love them and are grateful but this year I have been surprised that some have not even said ‘thank you’. Is that now the norm? Well not the way I was brought up for sure. 

This year has also been a year of getting used to the fact that we lost a family member last year just at the end of November. This is a traumatic thing, and the circumstances are not relevant for this story, apart from one thing: it’s your biggest wakeup call ever! Why?

Well in my experience and for my family too, a death is a bit like taxes (remember the famous line from ‘Meet Joe Black’ about death and taxes?). It is something that we prefer to sweep under the carpet and not talk about anymore. Not us as a family or even me, but people in our lives who we considered friends or good neighbors and now you never hear from them again. There will be some people reading this blog and suddenly think does she mean me? Yes, I do! My conclusion is then, do they care, answer no, they are so caught up in their own little lives, and even worse (and some dear friend mentioned this to me recently), you suddenly become a ‘threat’ … you are thinking a threat? Yes, for sure, because when jealousy suddenly rears its head, then people act even more strange. Of course, there are people in my life who have been extremely loyal and taken care of me and my family, but to be honest I think I could count them on one single hand. And I would say here openly: thank you for your love and friendship because you cared! You know who you are.

It is a sad example isn’t it of how these times are. We are all in some sort of crisis and some much worse than others, but shouldn’t this be the time when we are waking up and thinking about one another, instead of ourselves. I wonder how many people know the Christmas story of the meaning of it. Religion is not the issue here, as I realize some faiths don’t celebrate, but the whole point is the word HOPE. The Christmas Story is all about hope. I recently told my granddaughter about the story and bought her a small wooden Christmas Manger from Little Dutch, a toy company over here and yes, we have watched the Christmas movies together when she is here, that the magic of it all can sparkle in her eyes too. I have taught her simple songs, like Jingle Bells because in some or other way, the bells ringing in December just mean Christmas, don’t they?

All the major supermarkets have tear-jerking advertisements of how we should behave at Christmas, but it all begins with you. Just one simple little action helping another and maybe giving someone a hug, or a listening ear is all it needs. All it needs to make someone not only feel wanted but appreciated too. But why only on these two days, why not every single day of the year. To my mind this is the only way forward.

I am fed up with the back-stabbing and horrid comments I keep reading on the socials, so much so that I don’t want to read anymore and seriously think that my New Year’s Resolution should be, delete the lot. Wouldn’t it mean so much more to be giving rather than taking. Rather than keep carping on about ‘the perfect lifestyle you lead’ and take the time to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier. 

Think about this!

Shouldn’t we all make one single resolution for 2023 and that is; to pay more attention to one another, to help those in greater need. It doesn’t have to be anything big or small just a simple gesture of love and understanding and help if they need it.

Today I was waiting to see my GP and the lady opposite me was in tears. I offered her a tissue and then a peppermint to help her stop crying and she told me she had been crying non-stop for 2 days. 2 days I said!! I then went on to say, that crying is such a great release if you are penting up any feelings you would prefer to get rid of. It is strange isn’t it that crying with laughter is something everyone thinks is funny, but tears of sadness are something to be ashamed of??? As I left, she touched my arm and said, ‘thank you for caring’. It sort of made my day in a way. And this is exactly what I am talking about. Big or small is irrelevant, it is just caring.

Let’s stop all this negativity, let’s stop going on and on about things that probably truthfully don’t interest us at all. Let it go, as I said yes, have an opinion, but don’t feel obliged to share the hateful words on the socials, just for the sake of having to say something. Do something more useful. You will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself a pat on the back if you do.

Love begins with me, you, all of us, and then we can fuse the energy field around the world with positivity. Wouldn’t that make the world a much better place to live in? Of course, it would. Materialistic things are meaningless, it is the memories that count and make sure you can look back and think to yourself, I did my best!

So, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the very best for the New Year and hope you make it one to remember! ‘All you need is Love’ John Lennon sang!

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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