I get round to blogging in this way every year. I am not a fan of Christmas. I have no issue with spiritual Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus – that’s their festival and they have every right to get on with it. What drives me nuts, is this other thing. This celebration of gluttony and excess in which we are supposed to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to give to people we don’t even necessarily like with a side order of a lot of wasted food and a frightening amount of rubbish destined for landfill.
Every year, I get more hostile to the whole process and my desire to get away from it grows.
I’ve made myself a promise therefore, that this is going to be the last year in which I do anything conventional around Christmas. The boy is ten, and able to cope with the idea, and I think also conscious of the same issues. He’s too environmentally aware not to be uneasy about the waste and excess, even while he does like getting presents. We’ve talked a lot about making good memories rather than owning more things.
What would happen if we took a tiny fraction of the money spent on things that will never be used, or played with, and did something else with it? What if that money went to people who have nothing, who are homeless, hungry, and suffering around the world? What would happen if ‘keep things out of landfill’ got hardwired into the Christmas message? Hard to imagine that one. Tis the season to generate a great deal of junk. What about all the animals who are still given as gifts, despite, surely, everyone knowing that this is not a clever time to get a puppy or a kitten?
I’ve sung a lot of Christmas carols down the years – I like community singing and it’s a great way to raise money for good causes. I notice all those messages about peace and goodwill. I don’t remember a single carol about getting drunk, eating too much, trying to be polite about unwanted gifts and throwing far too much in the bin on Boxing day. I remember Good King Wenceslas taking things to peasants, and I remember tidings of comfort and joy, and I keep thinking how far off the mark we are, so often.
If you want to do Christmas, please, please reclaim it as something warm and human and get away from this orgy of commerciality and irresponsibility.
In the meantime, I’m plotting what I’m going to do next year, when I’m not going to be living in the middle nowhere and my scope to be useful should be much improved. And I’m trying not to feel too horribly frustrated about what I’m not able to do this time around.