The real countdown to Christmas began yesterday, the First Sunday of Advent.

The first candle of the wreath was lit, the first door of the calendar opened. The panic about presents and cards and relatives and the great Christmas Feast. How interesting that a Church festival should have become such a festival of gluttony, one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

No judgement, just an observation. I think Advent would be wrong if I didn’t have at least one selection box (probably per week) providing me with chocolatey goodness.

I also think that Advent is far more fun and exciting than Christmas Day. Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas. I like being with my family and doing all our Christmas traditions and the joyfulness of it all. But then it’s over, and that’s it.

But with Advent, there’s still all that to look forward to. All the fun and games yet to happen. The plans and the expeditions to find presents. The decorations and the tree. The baking – the pies and the cake and the pudding. (Which reminds me: I still need to do that.)

Sometimes, I think it’s a shame that Christmas has lost its original meaning, being the Mass which celebrates the birth of Christ, and the lack of properly Christmassy cards. But then, this festival, in the middle of winter, has undergone lots of transformations. Basically, it’s a time at the darkest point of the year for families to get together, to eat, drink and make merry, because frankly, it’s cold and dark out there, and we need brightness and cheer.

Yes, for Christians (and I do include myself in this category), it is a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. But that’s not just what it’s about. Which means that you don’t have to believe in him to celebrate the fact that we’re going to get lighter days some time soon.

So this Christmas-time, if you only do one thing, do this. Have fun. Have some good, honest, gleeful fun. Don’t hurt anyone.

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