I was in Cork city doing a bit of shopping (a very little bit, I might add) and I can tell you that Christmas is well on its way there. Nearly every shop I passed was full of people checking out jewellery, watches, bed linen, furniture, TV sets and mobile phones. The clothes shops were having a field day and there was hardly room to squeeze past those racks with special pre-Christmas offers.
It was a cold afternoon with bright sunshine - ideal for that festive season feel. I have to admit that I bought a few things on the spur of the moment and didn't buy what I actually came for, which was a pair of walking shoes. But it was all fun. In another few weeks, when Christmas is almost here, it will be a different story for a lot of people. Panic will have set in and wild buying sprees will be the order of the day.
What if? I asked myself as I sidestepped a harassed husband whose wife was trying on dresses and trying to elicit an opinion from him of what suited her best. What if we all calmed down, didn't get distracted by all those advertisements portraying snow covered streets, adorable children, roast turkey with all the trimmings, Santa Claus and his reindeer and a family wreathed in smiles of joy? What if we said not this year, not like that and set out to relax and enjoy rather than running around and trying to ensure that everyone was having Christmas fun? Just supposing we bought all our food ready to eat from the supermarket instead of basting the turkey, glazing the ham and peeling Brussels sprouts on Christmas morning? What if we just heated it all up while we lazed around drinking mulled wine or champagne and chatting to family and friends? What if we said no presents this Christmas? Instead we'll have some family time, play board games? What if we went to church and sang all those half forgotten Christmas carols?
I, for one, am not brave enough but it is what I genuinely would like to do. Christmas time is family time for me and in all the preparations and fuss leading up to it, I sometimes forget that. But if I tried to implement even a quarter of the suggestions in the above paragraph, I am convinced that,courtesy of my family, I would end up in the International Court of Human Rights or be mentioned dishonourably in an Amnesty International bulletin. So I'll be in the thick of it this year as every year. And I will enjoy it. But a little piece of my heart will be saying ever so softly slow down, take it easy, enjoy the spirit of Christmas without all that glitz.