ChristmasCash Change or Cheque?
The Christmas season what image does that conjure up in your mind? Singing carols in church on Christmas morning? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, or perhaps the sweet aroma of Christmas pudding flaming upon the dining room table, floats your boatNot if you are in the retail industry it doesn’t!
For those who have exchanged poinsettias for pound signs they simply want to take your money and run. With their overpriced novelty gifts and crass commercialisation that will line the pockets of those greed headed store chief executives. People are obsessed with a pictureconsumer-perfect Christmas and have forgotten that the season is primarily about love, peace, harmony, family, friends and happiness.
Those in the retail trade are not bothered about what debt can do to our cash flow. As long as Freddy can have the most up-to-date mobile technology or Sarah can speed about on the fastest scooter in town, then who are we to argue? As long as the children receive their special gifts and the fat cats can collect their Christmas bonuses surely everybody is happy?
So the festive goodies go on sale in September; Christmas is now rapidly approaching, but besides barricading ourselves in our homes for three months there is nothing that we can do except place our hands in our bottomless pockets and dig deep to present our loved ones with oodles of gifts. And if we haven’t got the hard cash to shell out for such extravagance then there will be hundreds upon hundreds of credit companies and banks who will offer you a plastic wonder card at five thousands percent interest. It’s not right, not right at all!
For a start, the season doesn’t make people happy does it? There is far too much pressure on the consumer to buy the latest it’ toys and to prepare an ideal dinner. Is it any wonder then that in the days leading up to Christmas many of us show signs of displaying Holiday rage? While the only people excited about the Christmas period are our children. And like you I share a sense of horror when I see people rushing around, stressed and freaking out, trying to accomplish so much in such a short space of time. Christmas has changed so much from Christmas time twenty years ago!
As you are aware Christmas nowadays is a corporate occasion whilst the true significance of Christmas, the actual reason why we celebrate the event has vanished never to return unless we, the general public who tolerate the palaver every year do something about it. Peace on Earth? Forget it! Christmas today is a battlefield in cultural wars. Arguments about Christmas carols in public schools, Merry Christmas’ verses Happy Holidays’ and Father Christmas’ verses Santa Claus’ There is no wonder that come the 25th of December many of us have had enough of the Christmas season!
Yet it is the children that I feel sorry for since they trust everything that they hear. My daughter and I recently sorted through a box of decorations. Emily liked the fairy lights so I hung them around our nativity. Baby Jesus surrounded by blinking rainbow hues. A culture clash if not a colour clash. Ten years from now she’ll think that the blinking rainbow strung across the living room is tacky but this year she is amused and amazed. However the unreality of Father Christmas, the lights, trees, and excessive gifts piled high like a huge basket of washing can confuse a child’s mind.
However, if our offspring don’t have the hottest toy then their friends won’t want to know them, but if they are fortunate enough to have parents or guardians who will give into the advertisers then out little darlings will be the envy of everyone! Maybe that’s a little extreme but tugging at the heartstrings of four to nine year old children is a risky business. So, after receiving their wonder toy your child discovers that it isn’t that impressive after all. So what then? You can’t send the item back to the shops once if has been opened, so it would appear that the advertisers have succeeded, while we the consumers, have mugs written on our heads for believing their hype!
So I was wondering how you handle the entire Father Christmas issue. Is he a harmless myth in the spirit of winter celebration, or a bare untruth? I remember feeling very wronged as a child when I discovered the truth about Father Christmas. Yet I also remember the magic of Christmas before discovering the truth. The most awful thing about this distorted view of Christmas is knowing that one day the dream will be shattered for our children.
We can all recall the restless nights waiting for Father Christmas to appear, or leaving sandwiches and milk on the kitchen table. That was such a miraculous representation of Christmas for me, so much so that I would almost burst with anticipation. But then I discovered that there was no such thing as the red cloaked one. There was no Rudolph, no sleigh, no enchantment and no enthusiasm and I felt dejected by the whole experience.
And so my Christmas fantasy had been ruined and to this day I’ve never been eager to celebrate the event. I detest all the commotion with an absolute passion. And I find it extremely difficult to get into the Christmas spirit now I am a little older!
Therefore, isn’t it about time that we told our children the truth about why we celebrate Christmas and how it is not about a Coca-Cola character brought to life in the 1930’s? In today’s war ravaged world shouldn’t we be looking to offer our support whilst giving to charitable causes rather than taking all we can while we can?
Christmas is all about giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. But nowadays it would appear that the festive period is all about what we can actually get out of other people. Years ago we had to make the best of it; my parents didn’t have a lot of money when I was a little girl growing up in the 80’s. Although I was quite content with out four foot plastic tree, multi-coloured lights and tatty tinsel that in all honesty was only fit for the dustbin. But now twelve days before we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ we have neighbourhoods lit up like their life depended upon it. Neighbours compete with one another for the tackiest window displays in town, just another extreme jumble of illumination and colour that wouldn’t appear out of place on the Golden Mile in Blackpool.
To continue, you could say that charity begins at home, or that you give to charitable causes all year round and not only for the period of the festivities. However, some folk are extremely vulnerable at Christmas and I feel that it is our obligation as civilised human beings to ensure that everyone enjoys Christmas the best way that they can. If
we don’t empathise with those less fortunate than ourselves then in my opinion the true meaning of Christmas will be well and truly lost.
Too many of us Christmas lacks purpose and focus. Christmas is a religious holiday to celebrate Jesus, to enjoy winter festivities, food and fun. It is a time for families to gather, build traditions, culture and memories. The holidays are seen as winter fun; something that our culture does to celebrate the season and makes us feel warmer than grandma’s gravy. Family traditions promote stability and bind together the hearts of husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren in a way that little else can. We should do more to promote the family at Christmas time.
But at the same time the preparations for Christmas can overwhelm your time leaving little time to focus on the spiritual significance. Therefore, my advice is do your own thing. Turn the television off to shun the commercial obsessed media and celebrate the festivities how you want to and not how other people expect you to. For those who believe that Christmas should happen everyday there are 364 days besides the 25th of December that are important for faith. The spiritual aspect should be preserved as much as possible.
Whatever it is that you decide to do be sure to have a fantastic time and perhaps if you stay clear of thee high street stores then your pockets won’t feel quite as light as previous years. The good thing is, come Boxing Day, you’ll feel relieved that Christmas day is all over, but just think only another 364 days until it comes back again! Oh joy I hear you cry.