iStock

It’s that time of year where my inbox seems to fill up with Christmas offers and gift ideas. Suddenly it seems that a type of mild hysteria about last minute gift buying is setting in and yet I always though last minute gift buying referred to a last minute panic shop on Christmas eve, but alas it seems that last minute shopping now refers to gifts that have not been purchased and wrapped by October.

When I was a child Christmas magic came from the simplest things. My mum watching Delia Smith’s Christmas and jotting down recipe ideas, the Christmas cake being prepared, the excitement of choosing a Christmas tree and the delight of decorating it and cards arriving in the post each day. Christmas was not just about spending money and luxury gifts, but about remembering friends and family, visiting relatives, writing out Christmas cards and all the modest preparations.

The presents of my childhood  were modest by today’s standards, crafting kits, books and art sets with the odd doll or My Little pony thrown in; there was always something to play with, and over the festive period I was able to make things and use my imagination. My parents didn’t need a skip to house all the discarded packaging from Christmas gifts and Christmas wasn’t over in a flash, nor were we all bored to tears with the idea of Christmas by the second week of November because it’s been advertised and in the shops since August.

I am not going to rant on about our modern virtual world, but Christmas doesn’t seem as simple or as special these days, essentially it seems to have lost its sparkle.  Whilst I used to  run out of space to display all the Christmas cards I received and used to enjoy sitting down in Stepford wife style and precisely write out my Christmas cards with a fountain pen, making sure that a festive stamp was applied squarely nowadays I don’t receive more than a handful of cards and purchasing  just the one box of cards is more than enough for sending.

The obsession with material goods has made Santa’s job more than overwhelming. No longer to children pour over catalogues gazing at the toys they would dearly love to own, because most of them will already be strewn across their bedroom floors. Children now request less toys and more  iPads, Wii, XBox,  latest Iphones for teens and designer gizmos and gadgets. Presents are no longer a source of excited anticipation and hope, but a given and presents are assessed in terms of monetary value not fun and excitement.

Now days Christmas seems to be purchased and the supermarket shelves bulge with everything you need for a  ready made Christmas, from finger food, to pre-lit and decorated trees, even pre-prepared turkey dinners and starters and puddings you just bung in the microwave.  In the quest for convenience, I can’t help feeling that a lot of Christmas spirit has been lost. Regardless of whether you are religious or not, the Christmas spirit was something to enjoy and  it was a time when young and old could get together to laugh share and love once a year.

Christmas was a time to indulge in wholesome festive food, to enjoy festive delicacies not available at other times of the year and to embark on a festive tipple. Home-spun Christmas decorations and Christmas food once stood where supermarket, ‘finest’ ranges stand and I can’t help thinking that today’s pre-prepared Christmas is a poor substitute for the simple Christmas of yesteryear.