I took a piece of my own advice last weekend. I was in Birmingham and Liverpool for a short break, the purpose of which was to watch the Liverpool v Arsenal game. The less said about that the better. There didn’t seem to be much sign of a recession in those two thriving cities. That’s from an outsider’s point of view anyway.
The Christmas buzz was palpable. When you extract yourself from all the hustle and bustle, and look in for a moment, you begin to feel the spirit of Christmas.
Birmingham stages the most fabulous German Christmas market every year. Here you won’t find people pushing and shoving despite the throngs which have congregated to peruse the stalls.
The happy go lucky atmosphere was one of festive cheer and genuine friendliness. People enjoyed a hot chocolate or German beer around the makeshift bar. A singing reindeer belted out the old favourites. Ostrich burgers, fried potatoes and mushrooms, and strawberries dipped in chocolate and presented on skewers were just some of the delights on offer. Hats and scarves were the order of the day and people of all ages embraced each other while offering heartfelt festive greetings.
To leave the daily grind behind and soak up the atmosphere without a deadline to meet or meeting to attend is a rare privilege.
It’s one that can be achieved in every town — you certainly don’t have to jump on a plane to do so.
All of our towns have Christmas attractions, be they nice lighting adorning trees, streets, and buildings or Christmas trees in prominent places. Take a minute to stop and admire the efforts people have gone to to bring some festive sparkle to town.
The catchphrase of this season seems to be ‘it’s not like Christmas at all’. Christmas won’t fall into your lap — it’s what you make of it. So do something about that lack of festive cheer in your life. Watch Miracle on 34th Street or Santa Claus the Movie. Buy the RTÉ Guide. Go to a carol service. Eat mince pies (if you like them, yuck ), wrap up warm and go for a walk hand in hand with your partner. Plan for at least one night out over the holidays and don’t go with a heavy heart or in a panicked state because you’re so busy you haven’t time to prepare.
Make time for yourself, your family, and friends. Most importantly have a happy Christmas, healthy New Year, and look forward to the future with hope and optimism.