Stephen Cox: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Writer of the charming Our Child of the Stars (due to be published in Spring 2019), Stephen Cox is the final author we’ve corralled into contributing to our annual Christmas/December blog-fest. It’s been a great ride, so we’re happy to say we’re ending it with a bang! 


There’s a Christmas ritual that comes round every year, and whose appearance tells of our first planning for the season of joy. It will be triggered some time around Halloween, when the first Christmas adverts appear on the telly. My partner will say, with some venom, that she hates Christmas. She hates it spiritually and materially, ecologically and economically, logically, illogically and ontologically.

She has said this the previous twenty-one Christmases and she was dead on time this year too. It’s painful because I am still into the magic of the season. Seeing children’s excitement, carols and candles and watching people make an effort to think of others, including helping others they don’t know.

Yes, Christmas is The Borg (‘Spend Money. Drink. Everyone is Happy’). But it still has an inner core, whatever your religious belief or lack of it. To see the depth of darkness and know that the light will return. To see that hope comes like a baby born to an ordinary couple, far away from home. To hold each other, and know this at least is real.

My partner is not doing this out of religious disagreement, nor from a general hatred of humanity. For her, like many, Christmas is a deeply painful time. Her father was the ruling figure of her family, and deeply loved, and he died relatively young. That death blighted it for her family and for seven years, Christmas was spent without decorations or fuss, in some unheated hut in the hills, or along the coast of the North Sea. Although, she points out, it also meant choosing to spend her first Christmas with her new boyfriend, me, was no big deal.

When I worked at a hospital, there was never any difficulty filling the Christmas rotas. When I volunteered at a homeless shelter, long ago, I found people for whom avoiding their family was the main motivation to volunteer.

Molly asks about rituals and sacrifices. Sacrifice means making special or sacred. My partner did Christmas for the children and to renew the bonds of our mutual families. We made it special, so long as I did the cooking and the enthusing. In our special grumpy way, our children grew up to be an adult and near adult who feel they did Christmas, without dismissing my partner’s feelings either.

I’m to say she likes the decorations.

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