I know I sound like a massive scrooge, and believe me I’ve tried so hard to get into the spirit of things… but to be honest I don’t really get Christmas. Granted, I come from a mixed race household and I am not of a wholly Christian background however every element of Christmas is now about consumption- no Christ in sight.
Every year, my dad would get my two sisters and I an advent calendar (yes, ONE to share! From Oxfam!) with little pictures of the story of Christmas. Although I hated it at the time because I was desperate for a chocolate advent calendar like all my friends, I now appreciate how sweet this tradition was. Fast forward to the modern day, I see so many people with multiple advent calendars solely for themselves all containing chocolates, plastic and foil and excess non-recyclable packaging, encouraging chocolate for breakfast and lack of restraint (if you have more than one doesn’t really matter if you bend the rules and open an extra door…). I am not really sure what the message of advent is anymore. There are children from families who can’t even afford the luxuries of Christmas and in a grotesque display of the opposite end of the social spectrum there are those with their ridiculous excess and wastefulness reflected in the hundreds of things they have bought just for this month.
The concept of Christmas trees is another source of grievance for me- in what world does it make sense to chop down a tree which takes 7-10 years to grow just to put it inside your home for less than a month. At the end of the month, they are unceremoniously dumped in the streets for someone else to deal with. Of course, there are the synthetic ones, but these are another source of pointless plastic which cannot be recycled at the end of its life. Leave the trees in the ground! Everything in nature is not ours to take and play with whilst we are interested, and then throw away when of no further use to us.
What actually is the point of Christmas now? I have heard on multiple occasions people complaining about how stressful Christmas is, how they are counting their pennies because of how many presents they “had” to buy, and the decorations they “needed” to decorate their house with. The process of mass consuming in order to uphold the social conventions of essentially a religious day of worship just doesn’t make any sense. For me the message of Christmas is coming together as a family and spending the day together, in whatever way available to you. Gifts can of course be fun, but not to the point where it is causing panic, waste and debt. Gifts should be an added extra to the day, not the sole purpose of the event. Don’t even get me started on decorations…
In conclusion, yes I am a scrooge, but I like to think a scrooge in the right way. It’s not Christmas per se that I have an issue with, its the way we in the Western world have manipulated Christmas into a money-making scheme. The money making big dogs are rubbing their hands in glee at the hysteria surrounding the event, whilst we realise our months wages have been spent on tat. For me it is about giving in the right way, ethically and sustainably or not at all and instead to someone else in need. As long as I have my family together, that is all I need.