2023 has almost gone by!

I was in town last week, and suddenly struck seeing a couple of M&S staff decorating the Christmas stuff outside their store. Unconsciously, I smiled, and shook my head, thinking: "Soon, everywhere the familiar 'all I want for Christmas is you' rhythm will be on, and the high street will be sparkling with lights".

Curiously, I walked into their store.

Strangely, it’s not that busy for a Saturday.

As usual, old ladies walked slowly around and looked at stuff. But, quite interestingly, they seemed to pay much more attention to the prices now.

Oh, these people who shop at M&S, now they have to care for prices as well!

But, to be honest, it’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? Another time we could see how useless these reported economic figures are. No, inflation cannot be 10%. It must be 30 or 40%. Everyone who has to do the shopping knows that.

In fact, BBC has produced quite a few documentaries to show how it has severely impacted people’s lives.

But it’s not even necessary. Just go out and look at people's faces on the street. The worry, the tiredness, the suffering, even the hatred, it’s all there, much more obvious and common.

So, it’s gonna be a tight Christmas for many this year. The tree might be cheaper, hence smaller and … uglier. The presents might be less valuable. And, there might not be anything else, in terms of vacation and other types of entertainment.

But, for all who are over 30, we’ve experienced it before, hadn't we? And if you look back, I guess it might surprise you that it’s actually those days when our family didn’t have much, that we felt happier and more cherished.

Not only in our family, but also in the whole society.

As what his nephew told Scrooge in the forever beloved “A Christmas Carol”:

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,' returned the nephew. 'Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

For me, that seems to be the true value of traditions like Christmas - things that have become too normal, mundane, even boring for us.

Because, like almost everything else, we can only see its value when we’re far from it.

I remember the other day I happened to meet Allen, a British gentleman who lived in Australia for 46 years before moving back to the UK. It’s amazing to hear how over there, in the unbearably hot summer of the tropical Australia, his family still gathers up and has a big Christmas dinner with all the familiar traditional dishes that seem so incompatible with the weather, even to the point that they sometimes felt it's un-eatable.

Isn't it … splendid?

The way we try to keep tradition,

in order to preserve a sense of identity,

and to remember from where we come.

That really makes me think.

So, this Christmas time, I’ll book my flight ticket, I'll find my way back to where I’m from, where Christmas is not even celebrated.

But, I guess it doesn’t matter.

As long as we can be with our parents, our family.

And we care for others around us.


So, I hope you’ll join me, in keeping this Christmas spirit alive,

until we still can!

A Dreamer