Gloomy faces tell a different Christmas story

Tis the time to be jolly, not that the faces I encounter in and around the East Gordon area seem to reflect the full joy of the season.

Must you be so miserable at a time when you should be at your most joyful, or has the so-called festive season simply worn you out with its many commercial demands?

Personally, I am totally reconciled to the idea that the boy child Jesus has little or nothing to do with the activity which passes for Christmas, at least that’s how it seems.

Even our Christmas cards fail to reflect the reality of the birth of Christ, all of which brings on a heavy nostalgia for the days when we enjoyed a day of celebration for the birth of a special little boy.

But despite my curmudgeonly view of the over commercialisation of the occasion, I shall join in the festivities and at the end of the day will be as merry as anyone, though don’t ask me to get excited by the idea of making a big fuss about celebrating bringing in the New Year.

I really do draw the line at days and days of continual well wishing, and excuses to hit the bottle. Instead, I shall be taking my better half for a quiet Hogmanay break up on the Moray coast where I shall raise a glass in a quiet toast to the incoming year and all it might bring, including the promise of a more sober year for the drinking classes.

Recent publicity seems to suggest that Scotland as a nation has dramatically cut back on its consumption of alcohol. A statement which on the face of it should be welcomed, even if it should also be taken with a pinch of salt.

For while I can accept that we drank 38 million less pints of beer last year, after all the decline in the pub industry would help bear out this out, I am convinced as a nation we are drinking far more at home than we ever did. Home drinking is I would contend at an all-time high, particularly among the over 65 age group of which I am one.

This is all the more interesting when it is recalled that this is an age group who were generally brought up believing that strong drink would only ever be in the house over the period of New Year, and even then it was likely only to be a half bottle of whisky, perhaps supplemented by a bottle of sherry, or port.

Were you brave enough to ask the average pensioner what stocks of booze fill the drinks cabinet, you might just get a surprise. Certainly those who make claims about the reduction in drinking would get a rude awakening if faced with the real facts.

Even our youngsters are among the numbers who indulge in home drinking. Indeed getting “topped up” is a regular feature in weekend drinking as indulged in by my young associates who occasionally confide in me.

No despite counter arguments I remain convinced we have a long way to go before we win the battle with the booze.