The Ghost of Christmas Past takes us on a journey back to our childhood Christmases and for me how I continued to create that magic with my daughter and then my grandchildren. My earliest memories of Christmas include sharing my bedroom with my niece, not sleeping on Christmas Eve but waking excitedly Santa to bring us our pillowcases full of excitement, going to church and then having to stop and visit elderly friends on the way home before allowed to open any of our Christmas presents before enjoying a Christmas dinner of roast pork with lots of crackling and super crunchy roast potatoes is only my father could cook. I am lucky enough to have inherited some of the Christmas decorations from my late parents tree and bring them out every year. If we are to have a chance of enjoying Christmas we can’t insist that every celebration be identical, or try to impose our traditions on others, life isn’t static and my other memories of Christmas past includes the ones spent at my sisters, smaller ones with just me and my parents, and then revisiting and recreating all the magic of Christmas for my own daughter. These memories shape how we see Christmas, creating our own nostalgic tapestry of traditions and forming part of our own history becoming memories and stories to retell.
The Ghost of Christmas Present reveals a frantic sometimes panicky scene, filled with pressures from shops to buy more, from television cookery programmes on how to cook the perfect Christmas dinner, and the expectations we place on ourselves, especially if we are mothers or wives. The desire and the pressure to create the perfect Christmas can be overwhelming, but we must remember the importance of flexibility and adaptation. This year, my youngest grandchild no longer believes in Father Christmas, so my daughter is therefore decided to start a new family tradition, one in which the adults also have Christmas stockings to open. This new tradition will join one of my childhood, that of new pyjamas for the children in the family as well as one from my daughter’s childhood of eating freshly roasted gammon ham on Christmas Eve for dinner in this year’s celebrations.
Though for Christians the essential meaning of Christmas is unchanged, outside of any religious celebrations the way we celebrate the Christmas season constantly changes, and if you look back through history this has always been the case.
Britain has changed so much since my childhood and is now a wonderfully rich and diverse multicultural and multi-ethnic place to live. The celebrations around Christmas are an integral part of British culture and so embedded that many families follow other religions such as Islam or Hinduism will have a Christmas tree and celebrate with a Christmas dinner and the sharing of presents.
As we stand at the crossroads of past and present, it seems to me that the key to a good Christmas lies in being open to the creation of new traditions. Whether it's altering the menu, changing gift-giving rituals, or introducing something completely new, these changes breathe fresh life into the Christmas season. By embracing change, we not only adapt to evolving circumstances but also foster a sense of joy and excitement that resonates with the spirit of Christmas. The Ghost of Christmas Future invites us to think about our future celebrations and to acknowledge to ourselves that change can sometimes be painful or sad. A good Christmas is a blend of past traditions, and new and evolving ones.
This Christmas, let us cherish the moments that shape us, adapt to the realities of today, and eagerly anticipate the magic that the future holds. I hope and pray that each Christmas is a unique and memorable chapter in the story of our lives.
And to finish with a quote from the book that inspired this blog a Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
"... he knew how to keep Christmas well... Make that be truly said of us, and all of us!
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, everyone!"