Sunday, 25 December 2016

Christmas alphabet

A for Autumn. Christmases, or precisely 24th and 25th days of December tend to be winterless in Warsaw. The last Christmas with both snow lingering on the ground and temperature below zero was recorded in Warsaw in 2002!

B for Budgets. The fourth quarters of each year are a period when everyone chases targets to be met by year-end to ensure bonuses paid around February or March are generous. This means November and December are a crazy period, involving frequent staying overtime and daylight cherished during weekends only.

C for Cleaning up. Pre-Christmas annual cleaning is a ritual in many Polish houses. My advice – if you keep your dwelling clean and tidy over the year you won’t end up battling with dust, grime and dirt when festive season draws near.

D for Divide lines. In terms of approach to what is going on in politics, Poles are today probably most divided since regaining sovereignty in 1989. The divide lines run often in the family, therefore it takes good manners and tolerance to shelve current politics while dining at the Christmas table

E for Expectations. The lower you have them, the less likely reality is to fall short of them. Don’t expect your Christmas to be perfect. Too many people would need to act ideally, while you lack control over their behaviour. Let things drift, enjoy what brings you joy and have patience to cope with what you can’t change.

F for Family. While over the year you can choose who to spend your free time with, Christmas is the period customarily spent with relatives. Sadly, this is also the first Christmas I am spending with my parents only (my father and I visited my grandfather yesterday for an hour) and family relationships are unlikely to improve.

G for Gifts. I favour small gifts to lavish spending. Gift-giving is a tradition to be nurtured, not something meant to make up for absence of a donor in a bestowed person’s life.

H for Haste. Run-up to Yuletide is a period of rush, observable at work, in shopping malls, on roads. This rush makes people forget Christmas should not be a season, it should be a feeling.

I for Illuminations. It’s not a coincidence Christmas falls just after the winter solstice. Regardless of religion-related backdrop, people on the northern hemisphere must have found a way to light up the world when darkness takes over.

J for Juvenile years. Everyone sees how happy children are when Christmas draws near. I also used to be fond of Yuletide, then I’ve grown out of it, yet I sometimes miss my festive mindset and heartfelt joy filling me in December.

K for Kevin. Home Alone. The cult film is broadcasted customarily on TV each Christmas Eve at 8:00 p.m. I’ve seen it so many times that watching it yet another time is no fun for me.

L for Loneliness. On Christmas you shouldn’t forget there are millions of people who spend these days on their own. If we are lucky not to be one of them, appreciate what we have. Some of us though fear one year we might have nobody to spend Christmas with.

M for Miles. Two thousand miles, my favourite Christmas song, by Pretenders. Though recorded 33 years ago, will remain timeless. Hearing it in the radio is a rarity, since it falls out of line with merry sets of Christmas songs.

N for Nights. There’s nothing unusual about nights around Christmas, except for their upper-most length and diverse ways they can be spent: partying, working, celebrating birth of the Baby, sleeping off the former.

O for Opłatek (Christmas wafer). What Poles traditionally break before sitting at the Christmas Eve dinner. An indispensable element of family meetings, however no longer present in offices where Christmas celebrations have currently totally secular character.

P for Partying. Christmas parties, organised typically in the first half of December not to disrupt preparations to Christmas in the very run-up to them, have little to do with Christmas. Just another occasion to drink, socialise and hit the dancefloor.

Q for Quarrels. Where family members meet and everyone has their vision on how the celebrations should look like, toning down emotions is essential to avoid verbal clashes.

R for Rest. What Christmas days should be about; a moment of respite. Quite frequently they become a period of intense travels, stressful meetings and other events which necessitate rest after Christmas.

S for Shopping. Buying gifts and food produces has become the real craze. It gets the worst on the very Christmas Eve afternoon when scores of people still pop over to shops, showing no empathy to shop workers whose comeback to their families is delayed by consumers attempting to come by some stuff when the time is no longer right.

T for Tree, Christmas Tree. Never had a natural one, never felt the scent of conifer at home. Now they say an artificial tree is less ecological and indeed, a genuine tree can be planted to a garden or burnt in a furnace, while a plastic one decomposes for four hundred years.

U for Usury. The shopping craze and desire to spend Christmas lavishly drives people to throats of loan sharks. Debt-financed celebration turns out quite expensive with hindsight and I believe is not worth paying the price.

V for Video tapes. As a child I recorded several films from TV on my VHS Video Cassette Recorder (first communion gift) and then watched other during Yuletide breaks. In 2013 the cassettes and the VCR changed hands, while watching TV is no attraction to me…

W for Wishes. With time your circle of friends gets narrower and you appreciate quality not quantity of friendships. The same applies to wishes. If I am to wish someone a peaceful Christmas, I do it face to face or make a phone call. Wishes to be sincere need to be personal. I still receive Christmas SMS’es or e-mails with wishes appearing to be sent out to all contacts from the phone book or the mailing list, or idiotic rhymes (Karpia bez ości / Dużo miłości / Prezentów po pachy / Smacznej Kiełbachy). Each such message I reciprocate with a dedicated polite, but short wishes, written personally to a sender.

Y for Year-end. When I was a student, days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve were the most depressing time of year. As a full-time worker I find my hideout for those days at work and since except for last year they are not very busy, I hang around with people a lot and socialising brightens up those days when everything comes to a standstill.

Z for Zest for life. Something I wish on my readers and myself for the coming year!

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