Brexit Blues and Advent Hope

(photos: my own)

From Halloween to Thanksgiving, Black Friday to cyber Monday, and the new one, giving Tuesday, we have journeyed to the beginning of Advent. Advent is now of course the season of chocolate calendars, shopping, glitter, parties, multiple Christmas trees, eating and drinking, and maybe the great trek to see the in-laws. It’s also where we’ve now met the real debates of Brexit … The pressure is on …

And as pressure is the run-up to Christmas, so confusion is the run-up to Brexit. Let’s see how Advent and Brexit mix and match:

Stress – stressed out for 2 years now, we Brits are faced with our second Brexit-season run-up to Christmas, paralleling arguments and debates in Parliament with … Extra shopping, extra catering, extra excitement, extra parties, extra alcohol—to buy, to make, to plan, to consume … wasn’t running up to Xmas bad enough already …?

Brexit was sold to the public as if it would improve our lives, freeing us from being in thrall to something called the EU, which was supposed to be making our lives harder.

  Christmas is sold to the public as a glorious extended holiday time, filled with fun and pleasure, freeing us from the daily grind of work, which is supposed to make our lives more exciting …

Are both Brexit and Christmas actually fantasies, ideas, maybe nostalgia for ‘what it was like when we were very young’?

Brexit tells a story about ‘taking back control’ from a dominating power…

Christmas tells a story about the birth of a baby who was meant to ‘take back’ his nation from a dominating power (or so they first imagined …)

Brexit may involve us in ‘stockpiling’ essential medicines and food …

Christmas always involves stocking up on essential food—not to mention luxury food—and possibly medicines …

The thought of Brexit is exciting (for some people …) because it is meant to bring about change …

Christmas is exciting because … because it eats up all your change …

(photo: my own)

You get the point: stress, anxiety, and worry. Battling through more than one adrenaline-ladened period of time, made more difficult by darkness, dreary damp weather, the season of coughs and colds, the school holidays … then add the demand to be cheerful because of all those glittery trees, the red and green Christmas jumpers (too warm for the late December mild spell), and that jangling upbeat music in the stores…

Are either of these worth the hassle?

Advent is meant to be a time of watching, and waiting … the idea is to live frugally, to be ‘awake’ to the signs of the times, to notice what needs doing and to prepare ourselves … Advent’s hope includes what we can do to make the future better … 

The Christmas cards may show Santa with a sleigh of presents – or they may show a refugee-type scene of a couple, the man leading a donkey, the woman seated on it (she’s heavily pregnant, but we don’t usually see that). The Brexit scenario covers both … ‘taking back control’ can mean riches or poverty and rejection, which for whom, depends who you are… 

Against the Brexit backdrop, this year the circus of the run-up to Christmas appears to be wilder, more glittery, more demanding,  centred more than ever on partying and fun, as the big stores reveal their Christmas videos, and the on-line outlets rain down advertising emails designed to tempt – with money-off to help us spend …. which makes you think they must be desperate …How much does it take to drive a person away, I wonder, what is the tipping point, when shall we all begin to believe in cancelling Christmas? How many of us are already responding by scaling down, giving smaller gifts, donating meals to Crisis?

So, if all the hassle is giving you the Brexit Blues …How many of us wouldn’t mind if, as Liam Fox said, ‘Brexit is stolen from us’ (BBC Website News 5/12/2018) – just as the wonderful magic of Christmas seems to have been …?

(photo: my own)

Advent is the ‘not yet’ for celebrations, but it is time of hope …for an end to poverty, and violence, and a beginning for climate justice … the characteristics of real freedom … Advent, as we open our calendars or light our Advent candles, is for watching, waiting, being awake, reading the signs… and making positive, non-commercial, changes …

Maybe even for Taking Christmas Back

A couple of relevant Christmas sites:

Useful blog post for parents of kids with additional needsFind help for Going shopping, surviving Christmas here

Giving to Crisis – buy a meal for rough sleepers here

And a spot of on-line Christmas present solutions: how about one of these books?

‘Enjoyed this story about science, research and issues, but mostly about families and how they work. It’s a love story too. I learned a lot, and rooted for the characters to get it together. It’s a good book when you care about what happens …’ (‘Lynn’ Amazon review)

The novel is structured around the shifting perspectives of three people – Oxford fertility researcher, Jenny; her doctor husband Max; and Jenny’s step-sister Daisy. ….The descriptions of Oxford and Cornwall are breathtaking. It felt like being there. Whether a homey pub, a Church, a research lab, a doctor’s office, a country fair or a beach – it all rang wonderfully true.’ (Francis Guenette, fellow author, Amazon review)





Mothers’ day or others’ day?

Me and my daughter, June 1981



A very quick post at the end of reading Facebook tributes to lovely Mums … and sad posts from people who have reasons to be sad today.


Mothers are universal: everyone has a mother, whether she is/was good of horribly bad at mothering. Like Russian dolls, we al come here from our mother. And they say that mothers retain cells from the babies they carried, circulating forever in their bloodstream, settling even in their brains.

Mothering is hard: pregnancy take sit out of you (not just the loss of a slim figure, but the physical strain pregnancy and giving birth, and yes, if you breastfeed, feeding, puts on every part of mothers).

Mothers have a lot expected of them: and they can get a lot of flack for doing their best.

Mothers need the encouragement of their ‘Day’.

But …

Mariella Sakilariou Wheeler & Ephrosyne: Mariella was a lady’s maid before she was a mum

I wrestle with this problem: years ago, Mothering Sunday (a Sunday in the middle of the 40-day-long season of Lent) was the day when young people in domestic service were given a day off to visit Mum back home. Mum was probably the mother of a host of children, and lived a life of hard work and many pregnancies. It must’ve been special for her and for her probably teenage children to be back home on a visit, but it also probably had no commercial value.

Alice and Mary: Alice worked as a housekeeper before she was a mum
Alice and Mary: Alice worked as a housekeeper before she was a mum

Possibly few people would regret they were not mothers back then, before birth control, before giving birth was relatively safe, when keeping house and caring for a family involved manual labour…when women didn’t have the vote, the chances of education to chose a life of independence, travel, home ownership, and generally of choice. In many places, mothers lives are much the same: work, pregnancy, and being a second-class person.

So, I suspect that my ideal for Mothering Sunday/Mothers Day would be not that we try, somehow, to include all the people who aren’t mothers, for whatever reason (even that physically they are men). Instead of that, I’d like us to celebrate mothers world-wide, and count it as special day for women who are mothers everywhere, to remember the amazing job they do, and to think what we can do to support (even if only by giving) organisations which work to make women’s lives  better: to stop FGM, to see that women in places like Africa and India can obtain sanitary protection, decent toilets, antenatal care, safe births, and safety from sexual harassment and attacks.

Or is that too much to ask?

(Photos copyright, all from the family albums…)