- About the Author
- On Active Service
I’ve always found Christmas a strain and every year I have a similar grumble to anyone who cares to listen: about the expense, the hassle, the busyness of the shops, the buying of unnecessary presents, the whole rigmarole actually.
I’m not a religious person. Too many wars and too much strife seems to be caused by religion and when I look back in history it always seems to have been the same. So I have no religious reason to enjoy Christmas. But the religion has long since gone out of Christmas. How rare it is to find a Christmas card with a nativity scene on. Much more common to find Santa surrounded with presents or a robin with holly or a snow scene, or the sort of jokey comedy cards that are around nowadays.
It’s lovely to have family around at Christmas but there is an added pressure for everyone to get on and that’s not always possible. We strive for the perfect Christmas shown on TV adverts, with smiling families sitting around a table groaning with food but it’s a huge amount of hard work.
Then we come to the presents. Why do we feel we have to give adults ever more expensive and elaborate presents at Christmas time? It’s hard to find a present for someone’s Birthday year after year without having to rack our brains for something else for Christmas. Children expect presents of course, but the whole thing has got completely out of control as they demand the computers, ipads and games consoles advertised on TV. Whatever happened to the stocking or pillowcase left out each year for Santa to fill with colouring books and crayons and other small toys and games? The biggest present I ever had as a child was a baby doll in a plastic cradle that wouldn’t fit into the pillowcase I had put out for Santa.
I understand we have Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to thank for our modern day version of Christmas: the Bavarian Christmas Tree, the turkey for lunch, the family gathered around it to celebrate. I wonder if they would recognise today’s retail fest?
So as another Christmas approaches and I write Christmas cards, wrap presents and decorate the tree I struggle to feel the joy of Christmases past.
Bethany Askew is the author of five novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.