No. 1 Magazine - - SCOTLAND'S REAL-LIFE WEDDINGS - Co-au­thor of Ar­rivals and Sail­ings: The Mak­ing Of Ge­orge Wyl­lie (£25) Poly­gon

Says Louise Wyl­lie, a scriptwriter and au­thor in the High­lands...

Christ­mas for me here, liv­ing in the High­lands, has yet to be­come too com­mer­cialised. I live in Bade­noch and Strath­spey, a pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 14,000 in­hab­it­ing small towns and vil­lages, which are scat­tered along River Spey at the foot of the Cairn­gorm Moun­tains. We don’t need to troop to a city cen­tre to see rein­deer – they live on Cairn­gorm Moun­tain all-year-round. We don’t need to at­tend themed snow balls as it snows here for a quar­ter of the year. We don’t need to shop for Christ­mas trees as they grow ev­ery­where here. Thirty miles away, In­ver­ness – whilst the fastest grow­ing city in Europe – has only a pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 80,000, a High Street you could spit from one end to the other and a small shop­ping mall, so it’s hard to get ex­cited about Christ­mas shop­ping on a grand scale! For me, Christ­mas is a com­mu­nity af­fair and con­sists of help­ing the vil­lage shop and Boat of Garten Post Of­fice dec­o­rate their win­dows; lo­cal peo­ple help­ing to make the pen­sion­ers’ free Christ­mas din­ner hap­pen, sin­gle peo­ple com­ing to­gether to cel­e­brate Christ­mas; a wee dram at the Post Of­fice; a wee Gluh­wein from the mo­bile fish and chip van and, if you’re lucky, a slice of le­mon with your fish; carol singing un­der the pine tree on the green; sign­ing up for a lo­cal for­est wreath-mak­ing work­shop; an af­ter­noon at the lo­cal ama­teur panto, vis­it­ing Aviemore on Christ­mas Eve with grand­chil­dren to see the lo­cal ‘home-knit­ted’ Christ­mas pa­rade cre­ated by par­ents and chil­dren from the Aviemore Com­mu­nity Chil­dren’s Group (they pa­rade through the vil­lage and end with a church bless­ing and carol singing at the lo­cal ho­tel be­fore a fire­work dis­play takes place, thanks to Aviemore Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion). Christ­mas Day is spent with fam­ily how­ever, we are mind­ful of the many work­ers in the hospi­tal­ity busi­ness who have to work serv­ing Christ­mas din­ners to tourists es­cap­ing com­mer­cial­ism at this time of the year. Many fam­i­lies liv­ing here are sub­ject to a fam­ily mem­ber miss­ing but re­alise too that their liveli­hoods de­pend on this tourism. The true time for them is af­ter the fes­tiv­i­ties when a party out­ing on the steam train is tra­di­tion – it’s called ‘Get Steamin’ and it’s not to be missed! Liv­ing in this area there are few re­tail out­lets other than the out­door shop flog­ging ev­ery­thing for cold weather all-year-round. Lit­tle chance then of be­ing swamped with Christ­mas dressed win­dows other than a sprig of holly stuck in a pom-pom ski hat. The only in­flu­ences over us all to buy Christ­mas goods is the bom­bard­ment of Christ­mas TV ad­ver­tis­ing but hope­fully we are all too busy bak­ing our own Christ­mas cakes, mak­ing Christ­mas cos­tumes for the

We don’t need to troop into the city cen­tre to see rein­deer – they live here all-year-round!

pa­rade, shak­ing a tin for char­ity at the carol singing, mak­ing a wreath and hav­ing a drink with friends, to watch ad­verts. Oh and a toast too, to ab­sent friends, the boys who are con­tracted to cut Christ­mas trees down in Den­mark and those that head for the Alpine slopes coach­ing snow sports and work­ing the ski chalets for other’s Christ­mases. No, I don’t think we are too com­mer­cialised here... yet!

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