I’m delighted to be welcoming Susan Buchanan to Jera’s Jamboree today.
Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony and baby daughter, Antonia. The Christmas Spirit is her third novel, published Dec 2013. Her fourth novel, What If, is expected to be released summer 2014.
Here is Susan Buchanan talking about The Christmas Spirit
I always wanted to write a Christmas novel – I just didn’t know it was this one! The Christmas Spirit took me by surprise, as I lay in bed one night trying to get to sleep. The title and the idea came at the same time and then I created the characters piece by piece. I love Christmas, but I started wondering how it would be for those who had little to look forward to this Christmas. And I figured they needed a helping hand!
Thanks Sharon first of all for having me on your blog. All ready for Christmas? I am, well, ready enough.
So, religious aspects aside, what does Christmas mean to everyone? I think many will equate it with goodwill and happiness and people being more jolly than usual, but often, people, usually those who can afford it least, get themselves knee deep in debt from splurging too much at Christmas. Is it really worth it? Is it really necessary? I know my parents did with us, I know I did in the past – long ago – thankfully. But in the last couple of decades we’ve all gone a bit mad. TV advertising campaigns, the moment Halloween is over, are specifically aimed at children. Children want everything. So did I, don’t get me wrong! I used to sit with the Freemans and Janet Frazer catalogues and turn down all the pages which had toys on them that I wanted – needless to say, they were rather dog-eared! But I then had to whittle my list down to a few items. My parents weren’t made of money, but still they got us more than they could afford. But in recent years it has become downright silly. Little Jamie will get a Playstation 4 and a bike and a scooter and a skateboard as well as games for the PS4, clothes, other toys and money. It’s stark raving bonkers!
I’m not a Scrooge – on the contrary, I tend to be rather generous with gifts and I have been guilty in the past of splashing the cash rather haphazardly when it comes to gifts for others. I once bought my other half (at the time) a computer costing a thousand pounds and that was more than twenty years ago AND I was a student! I mean, it’s insane. But I do think we need to learn to be a bit more frugal and that doesn’t have to mean not having a good Christmas. I could point you in the direction of making your own cards, creating your own foodie gifts (I quite like this idea, actually – but I can’t make marmalade or chutney or cheese!). But unlike me some people will be good at these things. These gifts to most people, especially in the current, ‘are we really out of recession or not world’ would be well-received, and, personally, I think if they’re not, then the person doesn’t deserve a present at all!
And decorations – they don’t have to take up the entire street! We’ve come over all American and competitive in the past decade with many houses displaying a record amount of lights. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t stick up your Santa Stops Here signs, or have a tasteful string of lights interwoven through the trees outside your house, but don’t go so far that it looks like someone threw up Christmas decorations all over your lawn!
Many of us buy presents for people because we feel duty bound to. I don’t mean immediate family or your best friends, but cousins, aunts and uncles and other friends and friends’ children. It can get crazy. Does your child need twenty presents from your friends and for you to reciprocate, increasing the burden on your finances? Well, no. Surely it’s better to agree not to ‘do’ presents. I can bet the kids will have enough anyway. And for the adults, do you have any idea how many unwanted gifts people have stowed away in cupboards, unopened, never to be used? Who needs a Jamie Oliver mezzaluna, particularly if they only know how to boil the kettle for a pot noodle? Or another scarf/hat/pair of gloves and what about all these useless gifts you get For Him/For Her in many stores come Christmas-time: a Homer Simpson corkscrew, an Angry Birds deck of cards? You would never buy them normally. It’s true what they say – you can sell any old rubbish at Christmas!
I’m an M&S Christmas dinner person, but although the food is very good, it’s always far more than I need. Better surely to buy what I actually need, as opposed to giving my mother-in-law a foxy bag! And by that I mean a doggie bag for the foxes she feeds in the country park! I kid you not, that’s where loads of two years ago Christmas dinner went! This year, there are only going to be four of us, plus baby Antonia, who won’t quite be up for turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing just yet, so I’ve decided we are having our own menu – bought from various supermarkets, including Morrisons and Aldi – but just the bits I like and more importantly need!
So, how, you may ask, if I do all the above, can I have a good Christmas? Well, think about it. What’s really good about Christmas? Would you really be missing out if you didn’t get to eat turkey curry, turkey sandwiches and turkey soup in the week up to New Year?
Think about what’s really important – being with the people you love, enjoying their company at a special time of year. For many families Christmas is the only time of year when they all get together. Hopefully you’re not working over Christmas, so you have some quality time to spend with your partner, friends and children. Yes, you go to the works’ do, a girls’ night out, a special Christmas lunch, but do you really need to buy an entire new outfit if you can’t afford it, or can you tweak something in your wardrobe? Would anyone notice if you wore the same dress twice? Accessorise and make it look different – same with shoes (this from the girl who lives in trainers!)
Have a laugh with each other, share a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine, put the tree up as a family, take your time over it. No-one will care if they get ten presents instead of fifteen, or that the average value was fifty quid instead of a hundred. For me, more than half the pleasure is in giving the gifts and seeing the expression on the recipient’s face, when they realise how appropriate the gift is for them – well, except my big sister, she’s a nightmare to buy for!
Christmas is a time to be nicer to people, more forgiving, bite your tongue instead of coming out with a stinging retort. Wear your party hat with pride, lopsided and all! Dance like no-one’s watching – it costs nothing. Most of all – find your Christmas spirit and wear it on your sleeve throughout December.
Merry Christmas everyone, Sooz
Thank you for your thought provoking post. I too love to buy gifts, matching them closely (although it is sometimes a frustrating task too hahaha)
Blessings of the season to you Sooz and all of JJ’s readers!
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 359 KB
Print Length: 166 pages
Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.
Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.
Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?
Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.
Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?
The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?