Once upon a long time ago I wanted a fort for Christmas. Not a full sized one of course, that would be a tad impractical but a model one. And I got it. It was a simple enough affair; four walls that slotted together to enclose a decent sized area in which there was a building a bit like a sheriff’s office. The fort had swing doors that could be sealed against invaders and each wall had a narrow shelf inside to be the battlements. Though clearly designed to please those who’d watched films like The Alamo on TV during school holidays ( and it was on every holiday) it actually doubled fairly well as a medieval fortress or indeed any other type of fort or castle you wanted it to be. Children’s imaginations being much broader than adults’ this fort was the setting for numerous adventures over the years. Amongst its inhabitants were Cowboys, Indians, Knights, various farmyard animals, a bison that was out of proportion to the other characters and even a giant rubber crocodile. Cars mingled with horses in various battles and however many times the fort was attacked its four walls- made of some sort of treated wood- remained as robust as the day I first got them. It was no less than the best thing I’ve ever been given in my whole life.
Oddly for something to which I had such an attachment I can’t recall when the fort and I parted company but every Christmas it’s still there in my memory representing the spirit of Christmas. It was a fantastic thing because though simple in design it fed the imagination of a child, challenging them to dream up various scenarios for it. You can still get similar sorts of things now though they are more sophisticated these days.
Everyone probably has a Christmas memory like that- or at least I hope they have- and they feed our continued indulgence in a season that many feel has become far too commercial and selfish a time. These concerns, whether true or otherwise, will not permeate their way to children of course who I’m sure have as amazing a time as we all had. It is easy to distance yourself from the whole thing and only observe its negative aspects. Yes, everyone does get too much now and I bet few kids’ presents are still being avidly used years afterwards. Yes, the whole thing does start too early. Yes, it looks wrong for us to be lavishing so much on one season when there is a lot of poverty. Yes, there is comparatively little talk of it’s religious source even by people who partake in midnight mass or carol singing. Yet there is something to be said for a season in which people at least try to be decent to each other.
I know I’ll never have Christmasses as good as those I had as a child but I also know how lucky I was to have had them. Remembering that fort I know how good Christmas can be and I hope that as many people as possible have Chiristmasses as good as mine to remember.
So all that remains is to wish everyone the best. You may not get all you want but when things are good we should be grateful for what we have.
A jolly Crimbleton to one and all!