'tis the season to be grumpy about commercialism.
Not here though :-)
Here at the Palace We (that's the Royal We) look past the stock, the tat, the price tags and see what really counts.
When the Queen parades through her local shopping precinct, she doesn't see the products. She sees the colours, the pretty lights, the warmth.
And she's not daft, she knows they are there to tempt the weak buyer - but she is strong enough to walk through the shops, content to merely admire the pretty decorations, humming along to old favourite Christmas tunes and seeing children gape in awe at Santa walking past munching on a sandwich. Nary a penny comes out of her purse on an impulse.
I learnt from the Masters. No one can be totally cynical when shopping with a small child at Christmas. I thank God I have had that opportunity many times over the years. The child doesn't see the stock, they see the tinsel, and the glitter and the lights. They see the myth realised of Santa and his elves. They see love and comfort. We as cynical adults have to learn to see past the commercialism to what the stores don't realise we can see. Light, warmth, and bright colours.
Which is why, when Crazie Christmas comes around, the Palace will, as ever, be decorated with tinsel (about five years old), brightly coloured baubles (about ten years old), pretty lights (SO old I have lost count) and four little Santas (40 years old!! Originally one each for me and my siblings). There will be the wooden Polish nativity scene passed to me from my Polish stepfather's parents, and a wonderful ancient set of Chinese chimes (which include such wishes as 'Peace', 'Hope' etc) passed to me from my mother.
The present little Crazies (my precious Aginothlings) will enter my house at the appointed time and, as they do each year, will ooh and ahh at the tree, the tinsel, the lights and the pretty baubles - which cost me nothing except love.
Of course, don't get me wrong, there will be presents under the tree. Gifts which I know people want and will enjoy (because they have asked for them!) and gifts which are within my budget. The brightly coloured wrapping paper adds to the magic, and it is a cheap and cheerful addition to the decoration.
So, when you are cursing the crush and wishing Christmas didn't exist - look up. Look up and see the tree in the street glittering with lights, see the tinsel in the windows flickering from headlights and streetlights, see the colour and light reflected in a child's wondrous gaze, and if you look hard enough.......you might just see a star, twinkling high above.