Belfast Telegraph

Be thankful for what you have this Christmas, not bitter for what you don't

Nuala McKeever

It's getting to that time when you have to start thinking about "what you'd like for Christmas". Sometimes it's hard work trying to come up with anything to tell other people, because actually, the things you'd really like are just too huge and complicated and way beyond anyone else's ability to get for you and wrap up with shiny paper and a bow.

(Of course there is that special breed of person who says "What I'd really really love is a trip to the Continental Market in Belfast, it's so festive and fun and classy!" If you're one of those people this article will make no sense to you.)

So you say things like "Och, don't get me anything." Or "Well, I was thinking the other day I could do with a new pair of kitchen scissors." Or, "Oh, I don't know... surprise me!" (Be careful with that last one unless the other person knows you really, REALLY well...).

But behind the Christmas splurge of giving and getting and all the attendant disappointments covered up with brave smiles, ("Oh, an oven glove, lovely!") there is something lurking that doesn't get satisfied by any gift whether it's a fun onesie or a fab holiday for twosie.

Never mind "the gift that keeps on giving", there is this want that keeps on wanting. The something missing that keeps on being missed.

So what is it you'd like that you haven't got? You'd like to be more beautiful, slim and young? Ah yes, like yer woman Amy, the model, in I'm A Celebrity. All she's had is dog's abuse from the other females in the camp because she can't possibly know what it's like to be insecure about her looks.

You'd love to be fitter? Ah yes, like Rebecca Adlington, twice Olympic Gold medal winner for swimming who's breaking down in the jungle because the presence of the glamorous younger, slimmer model is making her insecure about her own appearance.

You'd like to be more successful in your career? Ah yes, if only you'd done better at school, got a great degree and used your brains to get you a big job with lots of lolly and respect, like John Larkin our Attorney General, who's probably thinking he'd be safer in Syria right now given the flak he's been getting over his comments about scrapping investigations of pre-Good Friday Agreement crimes.

Funny how when you look at those who seem to have what you want, everything's not perfect with them either. Even when they've got it all there's still something missing.

Remember when you simply had to have that new top/book/cd/carpet/ food-processor/pair of earrings?

Yeah, that top that you now wear to wash the car in; the book you gave away after one read; the cd you only ever listen to the first three tracks of; the carpet you never notice; the earrings you forgot you even owned and the food processor that's so much hassle to clean afterwards you can rarely be bothered taking it out?

Maybe the problem is we're looking in the wrong places and asking the wrong questions. Maybe a happier festival would be one where instead of asking "What do you want?" we asked each other and ourselves, "What have you got that you're thankful for?"

Then we'd be warmed by all we have as opposed to being chilled by what we think we're missing. We'd see our valiant bodies, supportive families, loving friends, freedom to laugh, to cry and to have fun. Oh and St George's Market. That IS class...

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