What is life if, full of care, we have no time to ... I've no time to finish the quotation now.
After all, there are cards to buy cards to write presents to buy presents to wrap don't forget Aunt Vera this year remember that sour look she gave you last year and then the children ah the children we must do our bit to give Santa a hand he'll need carrots and mince pies - not supermarket ones that's cheating - no you must make the mince pies and the sausage rolls and the stuffing get it all in the freezer and your cake will be made by now and the puddings so you've time to make costumes for little Nellie is a shepherd and Joss is a dog and the tree don't forget the tree and the decorations make some with the kids you know how they love it and a wreath for the front door ...
Who says we have to do all this?
I'm all for a midwinter festival - with or without any religious overtones. But does it really have to be such a struggle?
Speaking for myself, I want to hibernate at this time of year. I want to snuggle by the fire, watch the flames and let the winter blow itself out. I want to read. Write.
Most of all I want to think.
Some years ago I heard an interview with Germaine Greer in which she was asked her favourite pastime - and she said, 'Thinking.' Wise woman.
Where is the thinking in all the December mayhem? For without it we are simply automata, lurching from one must-do to another. There is no time for anything to touch us. To let the fun and laughter echo as we fall asleep.
If we cannot stop to think, we are purely reactive. We consider neither history nor consequence nor meaning. And we're all the poorer for it. We allow the marketing gurus to lure us into all the razzmatazz, sweeping us away from the glorious temptations of independent thought. From those quiet reflections that remind us of those we love.
It doesn't have to be like this. We can choose what we get swept up in, and what we allow to pass us by. But that means we must make the time to take that decision. And maybe it also means taking time to stand and stare.