Opinion: This is the true meaning of Christmas, just in case you forgot

The last thing you should be worrying about during the festive period is what time Penneys closes at.

Christmas is described as the most wonderful time of the year, but is our obsession with presents and Christmas shopping tainting the meaning of Christmas?

As a child, my fondest Christmas memories are of my parents and their friends singing along to Slade in the kitchen, decorating the tree with my little sisters and bickering over who will put the star on the tree, seeing the baby Jesus in the crib at mass, visiting my Nanny’s house and revelling in the fact that we could eat chocolate before dinner.

The last thing I think of are the gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I nearly keeled over with joy when a Sylvanian Families Brick Oven Bakery was under the tree one Christmas, but nowadays the most wonderful time of the year seems to revolve around shopping.

Are the holidays really all about Christmas Eve boxes, Christmas Day outfits, matching pyjamas, Instagram-worthy trees and Secret Santa’s that exceed the budget?

YouTube is awash with already wealthy Internet stars showing off the overpriced presents they bought their best friend.

Instagram is full of perfectly decorated trees that haven’t a single homemade decoration or scrap of tinsel.

Facebook is full of frazzled parents who are stressing out about where to buy LOL Dolls and the board game every kid wants but will undoubtedly be dumped in the cupboard by February.

Christmas is starting to centre around Amazon deliveries, late night shopping and trolley wars in the local supermarket.

We’ve forgotten the fact that spending hundreds on gifts isn’t the true meaning of Christmas. 

We have been conditioned to think this way so let me remind you of the things that truly matter at Christmas time.

  • Waking up on Christmas morning and hugging your Mam.
  • Singing along to Wham as you drive home with your Dad.
  • Swooning over Jude Law in The Holiday with your sisters.
  • That first sip of Butler’s Hot Chocolate on a cold December evening.
  • Catching the Father Ted Christmas special and quoting the entire thing.
  • Rockin’ around the Christmas tree, literally.
  • Laughing at your Mam as she pointlessly hoovers up pine needles for the fifth time that day.
  • Helping the men of the family wrap their presents on the sly.
  • Stopping to listen to carol singers on Grafton Street.
  • The smell that hits you as you open the first tin of Roses.
  • Pints in your local pub on Christmas Eve.
  • Fluffy roast potatoes that make you drool.
  • Laughing as you struggle to fit the turkey in the oven: “It didn’t look that big in the butchers.”
  • Receiving Christmas cards from family who won’t make it home for Christmas.
  • Watching the baffled look on your cat/dog’s face when they see the tree for the first time.
  • Saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to the bus driver.
  • Your Nanny’s red cheeks after one too many glasses of mulled wine.
  • Sharing stories about the loved ones who are no longer around for Christmas.
  • Pretending your Grandad didn’t fall asleep after dinner: “I was just resting my eyes.”
  • Watching Santa leave the North Pole on the news, no matter what age you are.
  • Driving around and looking at all the Christmas lights in your hometown.
  • Trying to find out which one of your cousins keeps putting empty wrappers in the tin of Celebrations.
  • Seeing the Coca Cola ad for the first time.
  • Drinking a cold glass of Bailey’s by the fire.
  • The first turkey sandwich you eat on December 26.

So this is Christmas.

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