Wednesday, 23 December 2009


“From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it.” - Katharine Whitehorn

We went to a Shopping Centre today. The day was to be hot (it topped at 39˚C) and as we needed to do some Christmas shopping, we decided the air-conditioned comfort of the centre would be a good idea. Bad idea! The pullulating crowds, the constant noise, the incessant tinkling of the Christmas music, the traffic, the forced cheeriness was all a bit too much. Reminders everywhere that Christmas has become a commercial activity and that its temple is the large department store in shopping centres similar to the one we visited today…

We couldn’t take too much of the crassness and ended up cutting the expedition short and going back home via a nursery. This was less crowded and although the major part of it was hot and uncomfortable, we found some coolness and green serenity in the shade of the fern house. At least in the darkness of the shadehouse we were able to get away from the milling crowds and in a quiet little corner, saw in a grotto a small and intimate, simple nativity scene. A few small figures assembled by a loving hand and recreating simply the Christmas story. That alone seemed to capture the essence of the season, noticed only by the two of us, alas!

The Season’s Greetings

The greeting cards announce in cursive script:
“A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”.
The mailbox fills with cardboard wishes
And stock sugary images, empty felicitations.

The carols blare in lifts, in shopping centres:
“Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth”.
The children bright-eyed in greedy innocence,
Watch with hungry eyes toy store displays.

The Father Christmases in their thousands, chuckle:
“Ho, ho, ho!” their white beards and hair a pale caricature.
The milling crowds around them hope to be infected
By their pretend jollity and ersatz joviality.

The decorations brightly sparkle, the Christmas lights shine,
“Noël, Noël” the electronics tinkle as they flicker on and off.
The families gather united under the same roof,
The enmities suspended temporarily under false smiles.

Somewhere a tiny baby is in a hovel born ,
Its mother unmarried, only a distant relative is present.
The stars burn bright in the firmament
And one falls, streaking bright across the blue velvet.
In the cold air, the lowing of the cattle breaks the silence,
While somewhere in the distance a shepherd’s pipe
Begins to play a simple tune that’s carried by the wind.
Christmas again this year has come.

Jacqui BB is hosting Poetry Wednesday.


  1. My feelings exactly!
    I don't "shop" for Christmas gifts anymore, and my Christmas Spirit is even greater!
    I have enjoyed your blogging friendship these last few months. Thank you!
    Have a Joyful Christmas!

  2. The did invent it! The department stores in New York City gave it birth and nurtured it to what it is today.

    Bah Humbug

  3. A beautiful poem that highlights what Christmas is all about, Nicholas!
    I hope that you and your family have a blessed Christmas and all the best wishes for a New Year full of happiness!

  4. It does get a bit mad in the shopping centres around this time of year...I can only do the shopping thing in small bites, then I've had enough.

    It's been a wee while since I've gone to church on a Christmas Eve, but I do take the notion now and then.

    Last year, my sisters and I attended a 'Carols-by-candlelight' concert in Glasgow, which was fun ( and joining in the singsong was a bit of a giggle ) definitely helped create a 'real' christmassy feeling.

    I dont like the commercialism, but generally I do enjoy the traditional festive-type atmosphere...the cards, the trees and things all lit up and sparkling, the party hats & crackers, the turkey etc...mostly though it's just nice spending that time with family & friends.

  5. Merry Christmas Nic! What you describe is unfortunately true. May the true miracle of christmastime bless you and your family.

  6. crass commercialism and rampant capitalism have made the world a sad place
    good poem

  7. Dear Nicholas, what a piercing poem. Some amazing details - "greedy innocence" - and then you bring us to the essentials - a miracle of Nativity - the humble
    origins of our Lord - and the replay of that 2 thousand-year-old drama somewhere else in this world...