OH JESUS! IT'S CHRISTMAS AGAIN!
Do you know what? I absolutely love Christmas. I am not even a Christian but I love it just the same, there is something magical about it, especially if you have small children in your life and it is even more magical if we are lucky enough to have snow like we did last year.
I have had to re-learn how to love Christmas because over the last few decades it has been totally dominated by consumerism, the latest in a line of false Gods for us all to worship.
In our house we don't allow TV advertising. I made that decision when our little boy was very young because I could see how our society had been completely dominated by advertising and the programs had now become more of an incidental gap filler in between ads. I wanted to see if we could bring up a child as an inquisitive little free thinker rather than just another compliant drone. The positive effect of that has been that we don't start getting wound up for the big spend as early as most people do.
I am lucky to have been a child of the 60's, a time when Britons were experiencing a new found freedom and a new prosperity. A generation were growing up who had no experience of war but were the children of people who knew it well and what hardship it could bring. What was great about being a child in the 60's was the fact that people still liked people. Our house was alive with the comings and goings of friends and relatives and of course at Christmas time it was positively buzzing.
I won't pretend that I didn't get a huge pile of presents because I did. I was an only child and because my parents had so many friends I was spoiled rotten. On my sixth Christmas the pile of presents on the floor was nothing short of embarrassing. I can't remember what most of the presents were but there were a few Action Men and a Johnny Seven assault rifle with which I rather abruptly awakened my Dad on Christmas morning. On any other morning, a batten round between the eyes from a Johnny Seven would have cost me dearly but hey, it was Christmas.
The things I do remember about Christmas back then were what make me want to share that with people in the future and help to bring us about from the present course of folly and find the true spirit of Christmas again. The happy atmosphere, the carefree people who just wanted to be together to share the festivities and have fun.
The celebrations at this time of year are of course nothing at all to do with Christianity and were conveniently hijacked by it when it was the dominant force in society. I don't want to labour that point because in fairness to Christianity, it didn't really do it much harm. The festivities are strewn with markers that give away it's pagan heritage from the mistletoe, the holly and the ivy, right up to Santa himself, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Odin.
I would like to see us liberate ourselves from corporate slavery altogether but it will be an uphill struggle because we have been brought up with it in our faces everywhere we look. We can't even switch on our laptop without being bombarded by flash adverts and especially on the websites of newspapers.I know it's going to be hard to break this habit but of all the times of year when we should, Christmas is the one where they target us the hardest.
The joy of Christmas truly is in the getting together and sharing the darkest time of year with the ones you love. The long list of people who we feel duty bound to send a card to is not essential, nor is it essential to go to the shopping centre and find yet another useless item for someone you care about. Children are prisoners in their own room in many houses to an Xbox or a PS3. Probably given with love but surreptitiously relieving you with the need to spend any quality time with your child and show that love.
Christmas is, for your children, a fun time and a time of expectations but is also an opportunity to give them a well thought out gift. A gift that can make them grow either intellectually or socially and also a gift of something they are really going to need.
It is time to rid ourselves of the corporations at Christmas. Their power over us is given to them by us and can be taken away if we have the will. A gift that is given with love is gratefully accepted by someone who deserves that love. A gift that you made yourself or bought locally is a well thought out gift, whereas a lump of technology from China is no more than a token given out of a misplaced sense of duty.
Talk to your children, your family & your true friends about Christmas this year. Talk about recovering this celebration of people & family from the grip of credit card companies and superstores. Try to make Christmas this year a happy time that leaves you all feeling fulfilled, happy that you were together and sorry to see it end instead of dreading it's arrival and then feeling hollow, and drained afterwards.
Eat drink and be merry, spare a thought for your less fortunate fellows and have a very happy Christmas.