Politicians at Christmas: Patrick Harvie

Written by Gemma Fraser on 21 December 2018 in Inside Politics

Patrick Harvie tells Gemma Fraser he is looking forward to spending time with his family and curling up at home during the Christmas break

Image credit: Holyrood

What does Christmas mean to you?

It’s a chance to have a bit of over-indulgence in the middle of the long, cold dark. In parliament, you’ve got the long run-up where there’s umpteen Christmas dos and parties, so it does get a little bit tiresome going through the routine of all of that.

Do you partake in all of those?

A little bit. But I’m more looking forward to getting some time off and curling up at home for a bit and going over to my parents.

What were your family Christmases like growing up?

We are not a big family, so it would have been me, my mum, my dad and my brother. New Year was sometimes bigger with folk going round and visiting each other’s houses on Hogmanay and New Year’s Day.

I’m getting the impression Christmas isn’t much of a big deal to you…

Well, no, not really. I’m not religious and I’m not particularly sold on the commercial side of it. I was brought up in a household that wasn’t very materialistic or religious.

Do you think the commercialisation of Christmas has taken away its true meaning?

Well, yes, but so has Hallowe’en and Easter and pretty much every time of the year. We’ve got an extremely greedy rapacious, free market, capitalist culture that is coming to an end because it can’t last forever. Just little signals that you want to do things differently are important, so Secret Santas where the rule is you’re not allowed to buy anything, you’ve got to make things. There was one year where I tried to make or cook every present that I gave.

That’s ambitious…

It was a lot of effort, given that I don’t have as much time as I would like for that, but it was good fun to do that.

Do you have a Secret Santa in your office?

Yes, we’ll be doing that on the last week of term. I haven’t bought or made mine yet. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

What’s the worst Secret Santa present you’ve ever been given?

I once got given a plastic sledge which I had no use for and no room for in the flat. For the most part, people get me something Dr Who-related and I’m always happy with that.

What would be your perfect Christmas?

I would like to be the one cooking. Going to my parents’ place, I’ll sometimes be given a little task to do to help out, but I would rather be ruling the kitchen.

Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on people to have the ‘perfect Christmas’?

I think some people certainly feel that, yes. And you hear the absurd amounts of money that some people spend on Christmas celebrations and absurdly extravagant meals or holidays or presents. And, fair enough, if people want to make it that kind of thing, then who am I to judge? But it does seem like an awful lot of hassle and surely part of the point of it is to have a less stressful time than we do in our working lives and just try to enjoy each other’s company a bit.

Is there a particular moment you enjoy on Christmas Day?

Well, it would normally be the Dr Who Christmas special but they’re doing it at New Year this time so we’re going to have to wait a little bit longer.

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