For some, Christmas is an unwelcome fuss of awkward work parties and uncomfortable family get-togethers, for others, it’s the mince pie-eating, mistletoe-smooching highlight of the year.
I think Christmas should give us all something to look forward to, a glow of colour and sparkle of glitter in the deep darkness of mid-winter. A halftime break at the year’s summit before we begin our descent back to sunnier months and warmer climates.
Yes, of course, it’s a Christian celebration not acknowledged or observed by everyone, but that doesn’t prevent people from enjoying the cheer and merriment of mulled wine, decorated trees and twinkling lights strung up between lamp posts. A time for families and friends to gather together and appreciate a few days off work.
I was in a taxi this week with a cheerful driver who was keen to share every moment of the 45-minute journey in conversation. We soon got onto the subject of Christmas movies. I couldn’t work out if he was simply trying to engage me or whether he really couldn’t remember the film title of any Christmas film ever made. “What’s that one with Hugh Grant as Prime Minister…?”, “how about the film with one of the Attenborough brothers as Kris Kringle, Miracle on something ..?” “What’s the film with Jack Black in it where they swap homes for Christmas?”
It was certainly the easiest quiz I expect to face this season, but it got me thinking, what’s the one common denominator shared by all of these movies? Romance, family, forgiveness, redemption, hope? In some cases, yes, but lest we overlook the celebration of the underdog, the lost cause turned good, the outcast who triumphs over adversity.
In Home Alone, we have Kevin McAllister, a young boy isolated from his siblings for being unique, uncompromising and a little naughty. Then there’s Buddy the Elf, who finds out he’s not actually a supernatural creature from the north pole but a grown man from Manhattan. In The Holiday, there’s Iris, the overlooked, middle-aged spinster, struggling with her self-esteem and looking for love. A Christmas Carol tells us the story of poor and in-firmed Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim struggling to get by. Don’t forget the depressed and suicidal businessman George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life or the little drummer boy from Love Actually hoping to attract the attention of the coolest girl in school, barefooted badass John McClane in Die Hard, taking on a team of terrorists single-handedly. And of course, the accident-prone and self-sabotaging Bridget Jones. I could go on..
In the original Christmas story, we remember the ultimate underdog, a poor refugee child born to young parents fleeing a genocidal regime. An underdog who goes on to change the world unlike any other living character in history, before or since.
2022 has been a year of underdog stories. The people of Ukraine, unlawfully invaded and displaced by Putin’s Army, yet, against all odds, standing firm against a country 28 times its size. The women and girls of Iran, summarily arrested, beaten and killed for their courageous attempts to protest the country’s oppressive statutes. The people of Myanmar, refusing to live under a military dictatorship, and fighting for the return of freedom and democracy, despite the army’s brutal crackdown.
At times this year, Blue Bear has felt like something of an underdog, hit by the rising costs of coffee, shipping, electricity, gas, postal strikes and an unethical coffee bag supplier who sold us over £3000 of unusable stock! But despite all of this, we’re still here, we’re still fighting, and our sales are higher than they’ve ever been.
A big thank you to every member of this beloved bear pack of supporters who have kept us on our feet over the course of these tempestuous twelve months.
I wish you all a peaceful, safe and joy-filled Christmas, and together, let’s have a tree-mendous 2023 of fighting injustice, funding freedom and drinking delicious coffee!
Bryn and the Blue Bear Team x