78. Christmas – It’s all about Family (with James)

L: Yes. It’s kind of down-to-earth.
J: Okay. What was the other phrase?
L: I don’t remember, because I didn’t get a chance to write it down, but I guess some of those keen English learners will just have to try and rewind and pick them up.
J: Let’s get back to Christmas.
L: Okay. Alright. So, then, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas is… When does Christmas begin?
J: Wow. That was going to be about Christmas theme, about family.
L: Oh yeah, okay. Christmas is alright.
J: I just wanted to sort of say that but more… Christmas is very commercial these days and there is a lot of pressure to buy lots of expensive presents and there is a lot of… I’m not particularly religious, so for me the main thing I like about the Christmas period is going home to see my mum and dad, see my brother Luke, see my uncles and aunts and my grandad, and just see the family with no other reason except just to relax, eat some nice food, drink some nice wine and see my family, people I care about.
L: Yeah. Essentially. It’s all about the family.
J: It’s all about family.
L: Yeah. Okay. So, I agree, I totally agree with that. I mean there is obviously this religious aspect to it, it’s about, you know, the birth of Jesus Christ and all that stuff.
J: Orl whatever.
L: And all that kind of thing. But… I don’t know really. I think it even before Christianity came along there was a big festival…
J: A midwinter festival.
L: Yeah, it’s the winter festival, just like the way Easter is the spring festival, Christmas is the winter festival and it happens right in the center of winter, when the days are very short and it is cold and dark outside. You get together with your family, your friends or whatever and you eat like a big meal which will help you to sort of get through the rest of winter. So it’s the winter festival. There of course…
J: That’s also a kind of time to celebrate the year that has gone by and look forward to the new year.
L: It coincides with New Year.
J: Coincide with the start of the new year. So it’s kind of cycle of life and the winter is… Yeah. It’s just a good time to sit round indoors around a big fire and sort of take stock. That’s a phrase.
L: Take stock.
J: Take stock of the year.
L: Well, hold on a minute. Okay, stock. If you work in a shop, all of the products that you sell… you keep them in the warehouse and that is your stock. Right? So it’s like all the products that you have in your warehouse that you can sell in your shop and that’s known as your stock. Right? So every time you sell stuff, you’ve got to buy new stock and put it into your warehouse and then put it onto the shelves in your store. Stock. Right? Every… Probably about every month or regularly in the shop you have to take stock. And that means you count all of the stock which you have in your shop. Right? And it’s a way of for example calculating exactly what you have in your stock. Right?
J: And make sure no one’s stealing from you.
L: Yeah. Make sure you’re not losing anything or… so, you know exactly what you’ve got. Now, the expression to take stock also can be used to just refer to…
J: …your life.
L: Yeah. Accounting all of the aspects of your life. So at Christmas you have a little holiday and maybe at New Year you take stock, you think about everything you’ve done during the year, you have a look at your life and you think: “Alright, where am I, what’s going on, what can I… what should I do in the future?” and of course at New Year you come up with a New Year’s Resolution, don’t you? Which is something… it’s like a promise to yourself, which you will then keep next year. It’s usually something like: “I’m going to give up smoking” or “I’m going to learn French” or something like that.
J: “I’m going to travel more”
L: “I’m going to travel more”
J: “I’m going to drink less” in Luke’s case.
L: Oh, yeah, right.
J: Although he never quite manages it.
L: Yeah, sure. I think you’re talking about yourself there, actually.
J: No. Okay, let’s move on. Christmas. One thing I wanted to say: when you’re younger, as a child, to be honest, the most thing you get excited about is presents and at Christmas like… I’m sure the rest of the world you exchange presents… but when you’re a child, you get very very excited, because you think you’re going to think you get the new Star Wars set or you think you’re going to get a new bike and… it’s very exciting. As you get older, you kind of start to realize that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is the people around you. But when you’re a child, if I’m very honest, I used to get very excited about new stuff.
L: Yeah. Could you sleep at night, when you were kid?
J: No. And that leads us on to Father Christmas, Santa Claus, which is another universal thing.
L: Santa Claus.