That Festive Feeling

The nights have drawn in and the days have gotten shorter. With a speed even Usain Bolt could only dream of, Christmas has snuck up on us again. That’s right, it’s almost Christmas again! In fact, there’s just 3 more sleeps until the jolly fat man in red squeezes down the chimney, steals all our milk, mince pies and carrots for his red nosed buddy, and leaves a few treats under the tree.

My inner child has been in overdrive this year, with this being my first Christmas in my new house. Since late November it has been screaming louder than Buddy the Elf at the thought of Santa’s arrival. Without a shadow of a doubt, Christmas is my favourite season of all – as if you hadn’t already guessed that yet.

The obligatory, hideous Christmas jumper gets an airing ahead of its annual appearance. My car has been a cacophony of seasonal tunes with my yearly playlist getting played on repeat. And who can forget all the wonderful Christmas films. And it doesn’t seem to matter how old these films are (Home Alone was released 25 years ago this year!) they never loose their charm. I have seen plenty of them every single Christmas, and I never tire of them.

And it also means the Christmas adverts start in earnest on our TVs. For the last few years, here in the UK the mantle of best advert has pretty much fallen squarely on the shoulders of the department store John Lewis. First they had their snow people adverts, then last year they brought us The Bear and The Hare. In both cases the company managed to play on the emotion of the season to impressive effect. This year they have given us Monty the Penguin. While last year’s ad was a tall order to best, they have at least managed to once again strike the emotional cord again.

But this year, another UK supermarket has jumped on the band wagon. Sainsbury’s have stepped in to the ring with their attempt at using emotion and the depths of human sentiment to get us rushing through their doors. The approach here was to tie in with the centenary of the beginning of World War I. More to the point, they have played on the well-known account of a ceasefire between both sides on Christmas Day 1914. Both sides met on the battlegrounds once again, not as enemies, but as humans. Stories where shared, laughter, even a rumoured game of football between German and British men. In the story painted by Sainsbury’s, a British soldier embraces the spirit of the season in giving a German soldier his coat, knowing his Christmas gift of chocolate from home was still in the pocket.

While it makes for a wonderful idea, I cannot help but feel there is something slightly wrong about the idea of selling Christmas off the back of a heart-warming story during one of the most horrifying events in History, but that’s just my opinion. And while these work on the heart strings, you can never beat the age old classic: glimpses of a red lorry through the trees while the now-famous “Holidays are coming” chant is repeated. Nothing comes close to the brilliant Coca Cola adverts.

But before I go, the geek in me wants to share this fantastic spin on a Christmas song from the crew of the USS Enterprise, enjoy!

Well all that leaves me to say is have a very Merry Christmas everyone! I am off to listen to some Christmas songs, while settling down to read that all-time classic, A Christmas Carol, and make some new Festive traditions in my first home.

Do you have any Christmas traditions – new or old? What are your favourite songs, films and adverts at this time of year? Or more importantly, what does Christmas mean to you? Let me know in the comments section! 🙂

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

So with only 3 days to go, it is definitely starting to look very much like Christmas! Since November shops and supermarkets have been playing Christmas songs. TV adverts have taken on a festive feel. DIY stores and garden centres undergo a massive transformation – out with the potted plants and cans of paint, in with the real trees and string upon string of Christmas lights, decorations and ornaments.
Many grow tired of the ever-increasing build up (it seems to start earlier each year!) to Christmas, and with an abundance of commercialisation to it, that’s easy to understand. But once the twelfth month of the year rolls around, the inner child sits up and takes note – just 25 little days until the big day. That said, there’s still always so much to do. Gift shopping. Food shopping. Card writing. The joys of wrapping any gift that doesn’t come in a nice square box. Sticky tape that shreds, or whose end always eludes us!
Yet for all the frustrations, I for one love the build up. Suddenly the Christmas songs that have invaded my ears from every store, coffee shop and TV advert become a pleasure. Turning on the radio and catching a favourite festive tune becomes a joy. While a great many of the commercials at this time of year are crass, overly-commercialised tripe designed purely to sell you products in the most blatant and shameless manner, a few manage to capture the magic (and still earn a tidy profit for the companies in question!). No Christmas season would seem complete without the now-classic Coca Cola advert. While Coca Cola didn’t actually invent the image of Santa we all picture, their lorries driving through a snowy landscape have become a staple of Christmas TV advertising since 1995! And British department store chain John Lewis have had their run of success with TV adverts that play on the emotion of Christmas rather than telling us explicitly to buy, buy, buy! They gained big success in their adverts featuring a “Mr and Mrs Snowman”, where he heads out on a journey to find the ideal gift for Mrs Snowman. 2013’s advert carries on the emotional theme, with their big budget animated advert featuring “the bear and hare”. It very cleverly targets the emotion of the season, not the cash to be made. If you haven’t already seen it, take a look here.
Christmas isn’t just about the money spent and gifts given, though (honest!). It’s about sharing time with friends and family, and the sense of kindness it brings. Some big, seemingly-faceless corporations have even found the charitable spirit of the season. WestJet, a Canadian airline, carried out a Christmas miracle that has since gone viral. In airport terminals, passengers scanned their boarding cards, only to see a purple-clad Santa appear on screen, knowing their names. He spoke with every passenger, asking what they wanted for Christmas. Needless to say, there was a surprise for passengers at the baggage carousel in their destination airports. Take a look at the video below. Now I am not so naive as to think this was done entirely from the kindness of their hearts, it is the most amazing bit of PR they could wish for. But this doesn’t change the fact that it was an amazing thing to see from a big company.

So while you are all sat around on the 25th, lost in a sea of discarded wrapping paper, gifts, rich food, turkey, festive songs, Christmas films and toys without the necessary batteries (doesn’t this always seem to happen??), remember to enjoy the moments, and spend quality time with friends, family – the people that matter the most!

Let me know what your favourite things about Christmas – films, songs, food, activities –  are in the comments section.

All that’s left to say is that I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!! 🙂