In search of Christmas miracles and festive rituals

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

It looks like Christmas, Christmas at the airport
All the planes are grounded
And the fog is rolling in

– Nick Lowe, Christmas at the airport

Alas, for many, particularly in the US, Nick Lowe’s lyrics from his quirky 2014 song about what fine American music writer Jim Allen called ‘Christmas-time travel grief’ will be ringing way too true today.

Air travel disruptions caused by the supposedly ‘once in a century’ storm (given the state of global warming I’m not so sure about that) have caused thousands of flight cancellations over recent days, disrupting and in many cases wrecking holiday plans.

CNN captures the drama of the brutal weather conditions and their impact on travel. Click on the image to read the full article.

Perverse isn’t it that a festive season that ranks among the busiest US holiday travel periods in over two decades – and certainly the busiest since the damned pandemic began – should coincide with the worst weather conditions in modern aviation history? What more can nature (and man) throw at our industry?

Here in Hong Kong on Christmas Day, it is almost tropical in comparison. 13°C at sunrise and there’s an exquisite stillness over Discovery Bay. A DHL cargo plane soars high into the sky above the hills across the bay, while a lone fisherman seeks his morning catch in the murkiness of the waters below.

Despite the inclement weather in many countries, travel retail doesn’t stop for Christmas and nor does ‘the website that never sleeps’ as I have long dubbed our main media platform. I’m conscious of all those managers and staff working in airports, stores and onboard airlines and ships today and it only seems right to ply at least a little of my trade in solidarity.

In fact, I don’t have a lot of choice. Stories have already landed in my inbox this morning from Chanel and CDFG and I need to report the encouraging news of cross-border transport operations between Macau and Hong Kong reopening, an important development for travel retail.

But today will be mainly about another form of ritual other than my regular one of work. In fact, make that Rituals plural and with a capital R as our Christmas tree this year is courtesy of the Dutch wellbeing company of the same name. Along with many other members of the travel retail community, I was sent this lovely twist on the Advent Calendar theme, each day from 1 to 24 December featuring a Rituals gift beautifully clad in gold packaging.

My wife Yulim and I have taken to each opening one on alternative days. ‘Mistletoe Moments’ brought me a fortune balm, together with an instruction to prep, moisturise and protect my lips before applying my festive lipstick shade. I am still pondering my preferred colour though I suspect it might be New Zealand Pinot Noir red at lunchtime today. ‘O Holy Miracle’ (well-named as it turned out) offered me the chance to ‘repair’ my hair while daydreaming of Christmas and donning a keratin recovery mask.

Recovery? Repair? Heck, I would need to buy up the entire Rituals supply chain of keratin. And even then, I suspect this is one Holy Miracle that just ain’t gonna happen this or any other Christmas.

So I don’t know about miracles, but I do hope that many good things moment on this special day to readers of my Blog all around the world.

I will close out not therefore with more from Nick Lowe’s bittersweet song (It looks like Christmas, Christmas at the airport/I took a set of x-rays and they came out very well/It looks like Christmas, Christmas at the airport this year/Now I’m doing Santa’s sleigh ride on the baggage carousel) but from one of my singer/songwriter heroes, John Prine, lost tragically to COVID in 2020.

In ‘Silent Night all day long’ the maestro captures the blend of emotions that Christmas evokes better than just about anyone ever has.

There’s a pine tree in a window in a house on a hillWith a tree top angel sitting perfectly stillShe’s watching the shoppers walk through the snowWith their arms full of treasures and hearts all aglow

We held hands and stared at the lights on the tree
As if Christmas was invented for you and for me
When the angel on the treetop requested a song
We sang, ‘Silent night’ all day long

Merry Christmas.