independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Denise Deegan: We don't need silly surveys to tell us the true meaning of this festive season

FOR the record, I love Christmas. I love the decorations – yes, all of them. I love the lights, the trees in windows, the movies about elves, the over-decorated houses. (I especially love the over-decorated houses.) I love Santa and surprises. I love the magic. So when I read the results of a survey of what Irish mums are feeling heading into Christmas this year, how did I feel it was way too jolly?

According to the survey, 61pc of Irish mums believe that "the recession has had a positive effect on how we celebrate Christmas, forcing us to step back from the over-commercialism of boom-times". Sorry but how long was that question? Did people say yes just to make it go away? As for the answer, are we all really that positive about not having as much to spend? Really?

There was a sex question. I thought that odd but read the findings with interest, as you do. At first glance, it seemed that 86pc of Irish mums intend to have more sex this Christmas.

I read that one again. Oh, 86pc of mums intend to have more or at least the same amount of sex over Christmas. Now, I know that Santa is one very hot guy but I have a suspicion (and I could be wrong) that the majority of mums think of Christmas more in terms of lie-ins than love-ins.

Before I move on from the question of sex (why rush?) it may be of interest to note that mums in Cork and Limerick intend to have less sex over Christmas. Rebels. The people who conducted the research warn husbands in these counties to "watch out". Helpful.

They go on to say that "it's not just the dads who are in for a good time this year", (yes, they really did say that), "results show that most mums plan to prioritise relaxation time for the whole family this Christmas, with almost three-quarters (73.5pc) intending on having a pajama day during the festive period".

A shocking revelation. Almost as shocking as the spelling of pyjama.

I got bored. The only thing I was learning was beware of surveys. So I thought about Christmas and what it means for me as a mum. It means something bright, celebratory and joyous in the middle of our bleakest season. It means magic and surprises. It means personal family traditions that still excite teenagers. It means going out with my daughter on Christmas Eve to give gifts to the homeless. It means lie-ins and a break from routine. It means chocolate.

It means dressing up as Mrs Claus and giving my husband a good time. Sorry, ahem, excuse me. The survey has affected me. As a former teacher used to say, "there'll be none of that".

It means Midnight Mass well before midnight. It means remembering friends that have somehow fallen off the radar – again. It means reconnecting with them and resolving not to let it happen again in the coming year, though, deep down, you know the chances are high – because life is that busy.

It means having nothing to do and losing track of time. It means the end of a year and a fresh start. It means an excuse for peace. Two years ago, it meant a snowball fight with neighbours at 2am.

Christmas means so many things to so many people, not all of them positive. But perhaps the most important thing Christmas can mean is an opportunity – to remember, to reconnect, to forgive and to start again.

Denise Deegan is author of the teenage series, 'The Butterfly Novels'

Irish Independent

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