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Friday, 18 December 2015 (3073925)
Merry Christmas - however you choose to celebrate!
by Ollie Cowan

WELL, this ‘Dog' should appear on your doorstep hopefully on Christmas Eve, the first time I can remember that this has occurred. It kind of happened last year, but since publication was indeed December 24 I doubt if many actually had it delivered before Christmas.

So, what can I say? Well, obviously my very best wishes for this Christmas and hopefully for a cheerful and peaceful 2016, for a start.

I'm not certain that I ever truly believed in Santa Claus, my earliest memory of Christmas Eve was seeing dad and probably mum creeping into the bedroom I shared with my brother George to retrieve our ‘main' presents craftily (but totally unsuccessfully) hidden on top of the wardrobe. Dad in the early days was indeed kitted out as Father Christmas, but that kindly gentleman surely should have been rather more stout, and his voice less affected by alcoholic beverage.

Anyway, these presents then miraculously appeared under the tree, to be opened only after our Christmas lunch. On Christmas morning itself, Santa's elves had put pillowcases stuffed with minor presents and sundry oranges, sweets and chocolates at the foot of our beds to keep us happy until the main event some hours later. Such was the custom in our household - one which George and I continued with only minor alterations, such as the disappearance of the pillowcases, until his untimely death two years ago.

Still, I have stocked up on seasonal goodies for Christmas Day and if Cinders' greed can be kept in some kind of check, Tina and I should have a fairly good time of it. In a way, Cinders probably makes the day because of her boisterous efforts to get fed and the fact that at three-and-a-half she is still happy as the day is long. It is rather like having an excited child in the house as she catches on to the different routine from usual being followed. George used to say that Collie dogs didn't ‘grow up' until they are about seven years old, and certainly cheerful little Cinders is trying to prove him right.

I must admit though that I don't really buy into the over-the-top determination to ‘enjoy' yourself at Christmas time. When I had a ‘proper job' I was as keen as the next person to join in with the office Christmas parties (and in those rather less politically correct days they could degenerate rather into resembling Roman revels) but ‘real' Christmas for me was always a more personal, low-key affair with my immediate family.

There was a chap on telly the other night (or it could have been a woman) who seemed honestly to think that eating, drinking and generally behaving badly was “what Christmas is all about, isn't it?” Well, not really it isn't. And whether you are a practising Christian or not, it does seem to me that a passing thought at least should be given at least to the message it is trying to get across - Peace and Goodwill to all men (which means people, in case this offends anybody).

I don't think this precludes enjoying yourself, quite the opposite since Christmas is, after all, a celebration. Surely though, a little time to consider the Christmas message should creep in there somehow?

But however you intend to spend Christmas, I truly hope you and those close to you take real pleasure in whatever you are doing.

A Happy and Merry Christmas to you all.


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