As I logged onto one of my social media accounts just yesterday, I was shocked and appalled to see a few of my online friends posting updates of their progress in wrapping Christmas presents for their family. After all, in my family Christmas has always been a last minute dash to the petrol station kind of job; my mother may not have enjoyed her driving gloves back in 2006, but at least she had something to open in the morning. Even last year, instead of actually bothering to wrap my Christmas present, my mother presented it to me in a paper bag, so to save on wrapping paper and unnecessary ribbons. Our familial attitude to the festive season is further reflected in our rule to spend no more than £5 on members of our wider family. After all, if I only see my cousins once a year, why on earth would I feel the need to spend any more on them than a fiver? It is a delightfully refreshing outlook to have on a holiday that so often promotes unnecessary consumption.
From the earliest weekends of November, our televisions are swamped with advertisements offering us the perfect Christmas. Indeed, it is clear from these advertisements that without a Christmas meal that involves nine courses and enough finger food for a small army, your Christmas celebrations are as good as ruined. Why though, do we put ourselves under such enormous pressure to spend such inordinate amounts of our hard-earned money on Christmas presents for people we don't really like? The staff secret Santa; the toiletry set for the distantly related auntie that you despise so much that you'd rather spend five hours eating a batch of mouldy bananas than have to spend time with her. These are the unnecessary consequences of Christmas; the promotion of the importance of 'purchasing' above anything else. After all, at a time when wages are lower than ever in relation to our living expenses, is it not time to simply say that enough is enough?
Looking through a popular department store website recently, I noticed a section entitled 'stocking fillers'; effectively a section filled to the brim of useless rubbish that no-one will ever use past New Year. Novelty party games, mini-corkscrews and endless supplies of other rubbish make up large sections of stores across the country that are filled to the brim with mediocre tat perfect for consumers looking to purchase presents for people they don't actually like. Meanwhile, we all then have to sit through the excruciating process of watching various people we don't really care about attempt to display an iota of excitement over a shaving set, or a car maintenance kit. If I'm being honest, I don't care if the co-worker I've worked one shift with over the last year doesn't like her novelty mug.
As an individual who is just about to turn 21, maybe my youthful, blissful ignorance about the true values of Christmas are finally being corrected. After all, as a child I was often educated about the values of love, family and giving at Christmas as my Grandma would sit me down and tell me the Christmas story through our traditional Advent calendar. As each door would open, and another picture would reveal itself, I remember learning about the unconditional love of a Mother to a child; the pure unadulterated bliss of giving gifts and receiving them in return and the simplicity of finding happiness in spending time with those you hold dearest to your heart. Yet, it is clear now that these values have been warped by a widespread need for wealth creation and a subsequent manipulation of these values as a result of this. I'm not for a second suggesting that this is a post-millennial phenomenon; in fact the gradual process of the commercialisation of Christmas has been gradually rearing its ugly head into public consciousness now for what is close to a century. We know no different; but it would be nice if we could.
I'm not suggesting we should stop this unnecessary Christmas present buying all together; it is, after all, half the fun of Christmas watching a distant relative turn up with a horrific Christmas jumper plastered across their body. All I'll suggest is that, when you break into your third course on Christmas Day, or when you gleefully open your gifts before subsequently getting slightly annoyed that it wasn't exactly what you'd have hoped for, remember those who have nothing at Christmas before going any further in airing your views. After all, those who spend Christmas alone, or without piles of presents and food around them are the real victims of our ever-commercialised, profit-driven society and its' extravagant expressions of wealth at Christmas.