Frank Gerstenberg: Our Christmas traditions aren't what they were

Christmas seems to be changing. I'm receiving e-cards rather than the real thing, and getting e-mails saying "we're not sending Christmas cards this year but will be making a donation to our favourite charity". No wonder the Post Office is making such losses.

How we buy Christmas presents is also changing. I have to confess, Christmas shopping isn't my favourite pastime but I feel guilty about buying things through the internet. It's so easy. I ought to be suffering the crowds and freezing cold in Princes Street. But we did our shopping in November this year, so we're feeling slightly smug now that we've been told that some stores have suspended internet orders.

The weather, too, is changing. In the "old days", every Christmas was white. Then came climate change, and white Christmases were no more.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But that is also changing, though I can't say I welcome it, when airports close and the Edinburgh bypass is impassable after two inches of snow.

Christmas trees have changed too. We always bought a real tree. Then we bought a fake one – which takes even longer to erect than a real tree – because it would last for years. Or so I thought. This year I was told to replace it. The old-fashioned Scot in me rebelled and I bought a real tree. Now, 40 poorer, I realise my mistake as the needles once more cover the floor. It's back to a fake next year.

Then there's the nativity play. The Christmas story used to be recounted faithfully and the event was the highlight of the winter term for parents and grandparents. Nowadays there is often only fleeting reference to the birth of Jesus, and the nativity is sometimes replaced by a mini rock concert, and this year some plays have been postponed until January!

Whether all these changes bode well for the future, I don't know. What I do know is that I fear that the younger generation will, if they have not already done so, lose sight of what Christmas is really about.

Whatever changes take place in the future, let us hope that technology and political correctness do not ruin what is a wonderful celebration.