Well, it’s over for another year. If you’re a Mayan, you won’t be preparing for next Christmas. But the rest of us will go through the whole rigmarole again; the stress, the rabid rush for that last pair of Santa Claus-draped socks in Asda, the last-minute panic-buying for the Aunt whose existence you’ve just remembered, the raiding of the local Card Factory for cheap bits of tree to send en masse to distant relatives scattered around the region. Fun, eh?
I know you’re sitting there, munching on the last remnants of the six tins of Quality Street you didn’t ask for but got anyway, thinking I’m a miserable bastard, but I’m really not. I like Christmas. I like the build-up to it. I like the warmth of the day itself and I like sitting there watching Elf whilst getting drunk on Baileys. But, let’s be honest, it’s all a bit of a scam isn’t it? Whatever Chrimbo was originally meant to be; the celebration of Our Lord and Saviour, the celebration of human morality, the celebration of a Coca Cola lorry, we all know the whole point of the 25th of December has now changed completely.
It is an excuse; an excuse to eat more, to drink more, to spend more, and ultimately, it’s an excuse to waste time. All most of us do is lie around watching films we’ve already seen a thousand times before scoffing as much chocolate as our stomachs can physically take, going out of our way to be as lazy as possible. To be honest, it’s a waste of a day. Not for everyone though, I mean, some people actually do something worthwhile on Christmas; they meet up with friends and family they haven’t seen in years, they strike up meaningful relationships, and so on. The rest of us feel the pressing obligation to pull crackers and giggle at the jokes inside, wear paper hats that cost less than a penny to make, and feign interest when one of our tablemates reads aloud a bit of trivia we already knew. Do we do this because we enjoy it, or because we feel we need to? Do we think that it’s sacrilege to refuse to wrestle down those Christmas puddings we can’t actually stand? Supermarkets and retailers feed off this obligation that controls how we spend our time in the festive period. But that can’t be what Christmas is about.
In fact, from my understanding of it all, y’know from those Bible passages preached to us since we were toddlers, from all those ‘traditional’ stories about human goodwill, Christmas was intended to be the exact opposite of what it is today. Today it is totally materialistic; the obsession with buying things no one needs, the unchallenged belief that happiness can be bought at a bargain price at Primark; this is what makes Christmas Christmas in our age. How can we celebrate that?
And another thing – ’tis hardly the ‘season to be jolly’, is it? It’s the most stressful time of the year. Once the mistletoe-tinted TV adverts kick in at the end of October, that niggling panic at the back of our minds sets in and is firmly rooted until we’ve spent ourselves silly. The thing is, we’re never really satisfied. We struggle to stop buying things in case, once the day comes, we find a devastating shortage of tinsel or paper crackers or Toblerone, and thus our whole year is ruined. We are all in a mad rush to get the things we want; we turn into raging bulls, we lose all empathy for the plight of others and we comfort ourselves with the mindset that all is well in the world, because we’ve successfully purchased our Jane’s hat and scarf set. Nothing like the Christmas spirit, eh?
And once the day we’ve all been stressing over finally arrives, was it really worth all of the hassle? We get out of bed, say Merry Christmas! to all, exchange the gifts we predicted we’d get, and sit down and listen to the Queen’s Speech (because we think we have to – none of us has any interest in what the old girl’s going on about) and then stick Morecombe and Wise on. Sound familiar? Hell of a way to spend the most looked-forward-to day of the year.
As I’ve already said, I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m some kind of neo-Scrooge trying to dampen everyone’s cheer, but that’s not the case at all. I’m not a Professor at a University studying social trends, nor am I an arrogant git trying to judge everyone, I’m just an 18-year-old who’s a bit disenchanted by the current approach to the December festivities, and trying to explain the reality of Christmas (as I see it).
Well as we head into the dreaded January blues, I suppose what I’m saying is; there’s got to be more to Christmas than the superficiality and the rampant addiction to the material world that we see all around us. Why can’t we go back to basics? Happiness, generosity, altruism, and general human goodness; we shouldn’t need to receive an iPhone or some other pointless gadget to know we’re loved. Have you ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life? That’s what Noël is all about. That film shows true Christmas spirit and pure benevolence of the human soul. That’s the way I see it anyway. Do you want to know how to make the most of it? Don’t buy cards, don’t buy loads of chocolate, don’t waste time and above all, don’t get stressed. Treat the holidays as an exercise in humanity. Wouldn’t that be the ideal Christmas? But right now, it’s all a sham.