I don’t blame them: it has, indeed, been a year to forget.
Barely had we started to relax the rules associated with the last lockdown than war erupted in Ukraine with a perhaps unexpected but nonetheless devastating effect on global energy and food supplies.
And since those early months we have lived in the shadow of inflation returning to double figures on the back of huge increases in the cost of food, fuel and energy.
All of us are to some degree worse off than we were at this time last year. Inevitably, that has had an impact – as high street sales figures are already indicating – on what we have been spending on preparing for the great midwinter celebration.
Christmas 2022 will thus be a slightly more modest affair in thousands of households. In many cases this will be because of the obligation to concentrate the family resources on the necessities of keeping the home warm and the children and elderly fed and cared for.
But in many other instances families have taken a long, hard look at a festival which has become a byword for conspicuous over-consumption and decided to cut back and opt for a simpler style of celebration.
And this is the point I am making: you don’t have to spend a fortune tohave a ‘merry’ Christmas. Christmas is about enjoying the company of family and friends, about renewing old acquaintances and making new ones – about togetherness.
And also, of course – with echoes of the old pagan feasting of midwinter never far away – about celebrating the turning point of the year and the start of the slow emergence from midwinter into spring.
The days will soon be lengthening noticeably and as they do I believe we can look forward with quiet confidence to some improvement in national economic performance – and the financial circumstances of
many families – in 2023.
This Christmas may not be crowning the most joyous of years. But that should not prevent us taking some time to step aside from the daily routine, gather with family and friends and just celebrate, however lavishly or however simply we may choose.
So toast ‘good riddance’ to 2022 by all means. But let’s also look confidently forward to being able, in a year’s time, to look back and toast 2023 for having delivered us a far more enjoyable 12 months.