the sun is shining. it is Sunday. i feel joyful.
i am on a bus, heading to my mother’s home for a family reunion with cousins from up north.
the bus is busy. with less than 20 days until Christmas, i find myself in the company of fraught-looking shoppers. this is consumerism and the face(s) of consumerism’s victims.
this is Christmas.
teenage girls in bright winter woollies sit together, their smart phones in hand, talking about boys and their shopping lists; their nails festively glittered, their eyeliner perfectly flicked.
the elderly, with furrowed faces, talk about war time Christmas mornings and how expensive everything is these days. they talk of dead friends, who will not see this Christmas morning. they talk of dead friends – seemingly a waiting list of ‘who’s next’. no shopping list in their aged hands.
i look out the window, pensive: the pavements are wet, gleaming in the low watery December sun; the windows of peoples’ homes, bedecked with fairy lights and stars, Christmas trees and candles not yet illuminated, hold promises of hope and good will to all men.
a little boy, with a warty face, is sat between his grandparents. he smiles to me, his eyes twinkling with merriment and excitement. does he believe in Santa Claus? or does he believe in the baby Jesus and the three wise men bearing gifts?
what is his story?
to me, Christmas has lost its true value. Santa is both God and the ultimate capitalist whore.
i do not believe in neither Jesus Christ nor Santa Claus, and i haven’t for a very long time. but i do believe in the spirit of Christmas. that spirit being love.
to me, Christmas is a time for love, for sharing, for being with family and my lover. it is a time to reflect and contemplate who we are and be grateful to those who gave us life. it is a time to rejoice and be with those we hold dear. a time to share love with those we choose to furnish our lives with.
to me, Christmas is now (sadly) a racket.
we do not need to spend a small fortune or get ourselves into debt buying expensive gifts and presents – we should celebrate and rejoice in the presence of loved ones, and remember those who are no longer present.
but consumerism is the ruin of us.
Christmas IS a racket. it’s big, big business. from as early as September we see TV commercials, immorally targeting children, featuring all the latest ‘must have’ toys, gadgets and games… the big corporations have it sewn up… the latest Disney boxed set of DVDs or the latest doll; Apple launch their latest iPad; Sony release their latest gaming platform. they all perpetuate the ‘lie’ of the bearded man who will bring them all the things they could wish for if they are good little boys and girls. they all perpetuate the divide between those that ‘have’ and those that ‘have not’.
i look at the little wart-faced boy, with the twinkle in his eye. what does HE hope Satan will bring? an iPhone 6 (he is 5 years old), an iPad, a PS4 and the top-grossing £60 game that will be £20 in a bargain bucket in two-three months time? or would he be happy with an orange, wrapped in shiny paper, and a hug from his mum and dad?
consumerism has spawned a new kind of greedy, self-serving and ungrateful beings. it brainwashes the young, naive and impressionable mind into thinking they can have anything that their heart desires, or the TV tells them they must have.
as a child, my stockings were always teeming with toys and games and books and sweets. but there was always a glitter-wrapped orange or homemade toy in there too to earth me. to keep me grounded.
for me, the REAL magic of Christmas was the day i realised that there was no Santa Claus. the day i realised that my parents and my elder brothers bought all those lovely, lovely things for me was the day i felt a TRUE message of love; of what this time of year is all about.
it made me wake up – and grow up. realising that my family spent their hard-earned money to buy me those gifts, doing the best they could to give me all the things on my ‘list’, overwhelmed me. i felt an incredible rush of love.
from a young age, i was always reminded at this time of year to consider those less fortunate than myself. and i still feel sad to think of children in orphanages; those in domestic turmoil; those children in other countries that yearn for a glass of clean water.
love SHOULD be the meaning of Christmas. it shouldn’t be about what you believe, or WHAT you receive, nor should it be competitive. that’s all bullshit. it should be an acknowledgement of love, and the sharing of love. it should be about telling those dear to you that you love them – you cannot place a value on that. you shouldn’t feel obliged to spend £1000 on them just to show them your love – nor should they expect it!
love is the REAL Christmas gift.
please, give FREELY this year…
(c) Kat McDonald 2014