Thursday, 23 December 2010

Are you ready for Christmas?

"Are you ready for Christmas?" they say. Almost as a greeting, after the welcomes and how are you's. How often have you heard this, the past week or so? Perhaps everybody you meet: family, friends, those you don't see often, people in shops. Everybody asks the same question, almost within the same time-frame of arrival! Be it small-talk to break the ice, or a genuine question, the same question is always asked, with the same apparent sincerity. Such an apparently innocent question carries a multitude of hidden meanings and mixed emotions.

Yet such a simple question seems to warrant some sort of vague and timid reply. You can be as ready for Christmas as the next person, but as soon as you hear that question, a shadow of doubt can creep in. Am I ready? I thought I was ready? I am ready but shouldn't I be? Regardless of how ready for Christmas you are, you can feel obliged to give a vague answer like:

 "I have all my presents, I just need to wrap them" or "I have just got to get a gift for such and such a person because she/he got me an unexpected gift". Both responses are “ready” but you don’t want to admit it, in case the other person is in a last-minute situation. We therefore exaggerate any last-minuteness, secretly knowing we are contented and as organised as possible.

It is almost as if the other person wants to revel in hearing about your stress, hearing about you running around like a headless chicken, unable to find the gifts. Are they anticipating smugness and hoping they are more organised than you? Perhaps they are anxious, hoping for tips, assuming you are organised and know where to buy the all important item.

So if you are ready, you can drive past the shops, all smug and watch all those panicking. If you are not ready, hurry up because the date of Christmas day doesn't change, it has always been the same date.

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