Before everyone rushes back into the shopping hell that is ‘THE RUNUP TO CHRISTMAS’ (as the news-folk call it), I suggest you consider sending the following message to anyone you love, like, and actually care about. (And maybe you might also CC it to those relatives, colleagues and faint acquaintances that you don’t particularly like, but who, you fear, will probably feel obliged to send you a card or buy you a present, and who will expect to get one from you. In short, send this message, or something very similar, to anyone who ought to be warned in plenty of time:
This midwinter, and every midwinter thereafter, my house will be open, on several evenings, for the purpose of gathering together as many as possible of my real, actual friends. The intention will be to spend time together, eating, drinking, entertaining each other, and generally making merry. If you consider yourself my friend, this is your invitation. Also, if I am invited to a similar gathering at your home, I will do my best to attend, probably with a bottle or two in hand.
But please note, well in advance:
I will not be trudging round the shops trying to finds bits of stuff to inflict upon you as a ‘present’.
Nor will I be sending out pieces of gaudily-coloured cardboard, to clog up your letterbox, and the postal system.. If I receive no such piece of cardboard from you, I will be perfectly happy.
Call it Christmas or Hanukkah, Diwali or Yule. Let’s celebrate it for what it actually is. It is a time to get together, to take care of each other, to share what we have. Because the darkest days of winter can be grim.
Please don’t feel obliged to shove your way through all those over-stressed unhappy shoppers, putting up with the same set of ghastly Christmas tunes, glumly searching the piles of over-packaged, over-priced commercial crap, under the impression that you have to get a ‘present’ for me.
Really, you don’t.