December has crept up on me, somewhat stealthily, it has to be said – i’m not ready for it and far less ready for the usual festive trimmings that accompany it. Nothing new there – for some years now i’ve managed to negotiate the Yuletide season fairly successfully without becoming hopelessly and helplessly drawn into the fray.
It’s a bit sad really, because i do actually like Christmas a lot – at least, i like the sort of Christmas that probably only really exists in my imagination and on the front of chocolate boxes, and yet somehow, i seem to remember this time of year used to feel very different to the poor excuse for the holiday that gets touted now.
It doesn’t help that Christmas these days starts somewhere around mid-August and by the time Autumn arrives, the gift wrap and mince pies are in a retail pitched battle with the pumpkins and skeleton suits of Hallowe’en – it’s only a matter of time before some commercial genius will create ‘Hallowmas’, combining the two festivals and raking in enormous profits as yet another great tradition falls foul of the money-making demon; mark my words, the day will come when August through to April will be simply one horrendous spending orgy, culminating with the Easter Bunny’s untimely death from rampant over-consumerism.
My response to the de-Christmatisation of the festival has mainly been to distance myself from all the accompanying nonsense and do it my own way – low key and minimum fuss; indeed, in recent years i haven’t even bothered decorating – my sole concession to the festivities being to put out the few cards on display that people insist on sending me.
However, i’ve found succour in sl. Whilst my disenchantment with the real world has grown, so too has my engagement with the virtual festive season. Whilst i’ve avoided the parties, the dressing-up and all the fuss that proliferates in the real world, the virtual version has become ever-more attractive and enjoyable – don’t ask me to explain why, because i can’t – it’s a little weird, but it’s by no means the weirdest thing i’ve experienced in sl.
What is peculiar, however, is the effect that getting into the Christmas spirit, sl style, has started to have upon my real world outlook. Maybe sl is having the effect of grounding me – allowing me to experience the more enjoyable aspects of the festive season without the attendant pressures, demands and overly-commercial brashness that i just can’t avoid in the real world. In sl, i can find quiet, empty, snowclad sims, arrayed in traditional finery, but without the accompanying garishness that rl rams down my throat at every turn – and i’m finding that being able to experience that sense of wonder and peace – albeit in a virtual fashion – that so eludes me in the real world is rekindling my awareness of those things i’ve lost over the years, as a result of becoming a jaded, cynical Scrooge.
Just how much sl has restored was noticeable last year… inspired by thoughts of Victorian Christmases past – like the tableaux that crop up all over sl at this time of year, i thought to myself: “Why not? What’s to stop me?” – a long tramp through the woods later saw me returning home, laden with branches of holly, armfuls of fir boughs and bags stuffed with pine cones – raw materials for the biggest, most magnificent Christmas garland ever created! It may not seem much to you, but sat in my room illuminated by a few candles, with carols playing in the background and surrounded by the fragrance of pine resin, the ‘Christmas’ being hawked by the real world outside seemed a million miles away, and somehow some of that elusive magical quality, captured so well in sl, had managed to find its way back into my real life.
So, it’s December… and what will i be doing? Well, i’ll be doing my bit to capture the essence of Christmas in my own little virtual space. Like so many others in sl, i’ll be putting up the decorations, laying down the snowdrifts and lighting-up the candles… not because i want to jump on the bandwagon and conform to what the rest of the world is being told it should be doing, but to try and recapture that oh-so-elusive Christmas spirit that i’ve missed for so long. And you, my friends, are of course invited to share in it.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Pentatonix – Oh Holy Night