Best Christmas memories

My best memories of Christmas include frosted windowpanes, woollen coats and mittens, multi coloured lights on fir spruce trees, anticipation of presents and tins of biscuits and Christmas pudding. Log fires and family gatherings, long walks in the dusk and board games in the evenings. The best part was the anticipation of all the treats ahead.

These days Christmas preparations start the day after Halloween. Retail food stores are loaded to the brim with chocolates, tins of biscuits, puddings, mince pies, as well as alcohol – teetering in the aisles. These high fat, high sugar processed products are ubiquitous, relentlessly advertised and constantly available on price promotion. This is at a time when obesity has risen from 1% in children in 1979 to 10% in 2019 and almost a third of children on the island of Ireland are overweight or obese. Almost two thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

Along with the teetering piles of junk food is the persistent advertising of electronic gadgets, cheap throwaway goods and synthetic clothes all wrapped in swathes of electronic plastic.

At the same time, we are faced with a crisis of global warming, ecological devastation, loss of biodiversity and a requirement to cut carbon emissions to zero in the next thirty years or risk collapse of the social infrastructure we have refined in recent decades.

I would like to think that climate change and biodiversity crisis which threatens to overwhelm us is an opportunity to retrieve those elements of our past that were good, the times we lived in harmony with our communities and the natural world we depended on for our survival. Those simpler Christmases a few decades ago were harsh and demanding but in many ways, everything was in place as it should be. Nothing was wasted or thrown away and there was time for conversation, play, home-baked foods prepared with care, enough sleep and fresh air for young and old and family gatherings, free of digital distractions and over-blown consumerism.

Tips for a healthy Christmas

The thing about Christmas is that it is a day for feasting so no one wants to take from the traditional luxury food of the day. The problem is more the run-up, which is now four to six weeks, and the constant availability and reasons to splash out on cheap, processed food full of sugar, salt and fat.

So my tips for a healthy Christmas involve holding back so that the anticipation and wonder of Christmas is still there, when it finally arrives. Stay away from the shops as much as possible with their rampant displays of cheap consumer foods and electronic gadgets. Ignore the ads that convince you, you need more. You don’t. Make sure there is time for family gatherings, home cooking, lots of fresh air and exercise, conversation around the fire, board games and lots of sleep. Put the phone in a drawer, at least during meal times, and out of the bedrooms.

I am going to avoid any shopping until the week before Christmas and the real excitement will begin on Christmas day, laced with the best ingredient of all – anticipation.

Posted: 06/12/2019 11:39:58 by Catherine Conlon

About Me

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Catherine Conlon
I am the Director of Human Health and Nutrition at safefood. I have four children aged 18 – 25, a husband and a black Labrador. I like to write about wellbeing and sustainability, walk my half dog / half horse in the wilds of Ballinskelligs, plant wild gardens and vegetables, listen to Andrea Bocelli and sleep.