A few years ago, on one very cold Sunday morning, my daughter and I promptly reported to the mince pie department to lend a hand. I wanted to show my face and let them know the boss actually does know how to put lids on the pies. 

We just had to get that order out on time didn’t we? Because if you don’t, so we get told, “somebody else will”. So much for peace on earth and good tidings to one and all!

Then slowly my daughter raised her head after the first 5,000 had been made. “Dad,” she said in a very quiet voice, “I now know why you hate Christmas.”

That is not actually a true statement…

I love the true meaning of Christmas, especially Advent, and all the preparation for Christmas, but not what it has become: an over-commercialised, greed-induced, panic-buying frenzy, where we feed the already over-fed.

Before the cynics out there start to cry out, “Home goal there, Smart”, yes the company does do very well out of it, thank you very much. Like most bakers, we milk it for all it is worth. In today’s environment, if we didn’t do it, somebody else would. I suppose a good response to the critics would be, “We are only supplying what the customer wants.”

But are we? Does the consumer really want all of this?

There may be a few of us who still remember when Christmas actually used to be kept to December. Yet Christmas was in some supermarkets in August last year. Commercially, are we not stretching it a bit thin, the Yuletide thing, because it’s a sure bet?

I wonder what the response would be if asked, “What does Christmas mean to you?” Maybe the answers would range from, spending time with our family, giving and receiving presents, resting from all the work we’ve had to endure or getting absolutely blasted. Some of us actually might celebrate the birth of Christ, in our own way.

But it is not only Christians that celebrate this time of year. I came out of our dentist’s surgery a short while ago - he’s Jewish and wished me a very happy holiday; of course, he was of referring to Hanukkah, their “festival of lights”, which I thought was kind.

Many Muslims have celebrated Eid lately. Eid means recurring happiness or festivity. Two years ago, my brother and I were invited to celebrate Eid with some of our Muslim colleagues here at the bakery, which was excellent. Some years ago, I was fortunate to celebrate Eid in Kazakhstan with the bakers in Almaty and that was a true honour. I also heard on BBC Radio 2 the other morning, that many people are celebrating Diwali, whether they are Hindu or not. Diwali is the festival of lights, which teaches to uphold the true values of life. Interesting how “festival of lights” keeps cropping up between different religions, even to the Pagans who celebrate Candlemas -“the light returns” - which is the same analogy I’ve heard about Christmas.

It is strange how we are separated by our similarities, when we all have one common goal: peace on earth, goodwill to all, and to use our God-given talent to make a few bob while we are here