Christmas. Christ’s Mass. So, I don’t believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, simply because I do not believe in God, or a god. So, I don’t do Christmas. Sounds reasonable to me. Except to almost everyone I speak to that isn’t reasonable at all. Apparently it makes me (and thankfully Michelle too) a bit weird; non-participation of an annual religious commemoration which I do not believe in really is a bit nutty. Of course many of the people I speak to who say it’s weird not to join in the ‘celebrations’, not to partake in the annual gift-swap, are also non-religious (Christians, Catholics, Mormons or Baptists) but still feel obliged to ‘do’ Christmas. Why?
Everyone has their own reasons, or gets involved to their own extent. Here’s a few examples… We’ve got kids, we do it for them. We (couples) give each other presents. We give presents to family and friends. It’s good to get together with the family. We do a big Christmas dinner with all the ‘trimmings’. We just send cards. Quite a few say they do all of these things.
For me there are two main issues here. Firstly, the unbelievable amount of pressure put on parents (especially at Christmas) to conform to our consumerist society’s ways. Secondly, a more sociological issue. Humans like routine, and whether they’re aware of it or not are almost brainwashed into ‘doing’ Christmas.
To start with the first issue. Most of my friends and the people I speak to about Christmas do not live in poverty, nor do they have to worry about unmanageable debt. Some may do, but not because of Christmas. We live in a horribly consumerist society where success is judged on possessions and material wealth, rather than acts of human decency, benevolence and kindness. News stories abound this time of year about the amount of debt the average household gets into, or how families with poorer incomes need to resort to credit companies who charge exorbitant rates. Why? Because we live in a consumerist society where success is judged on possessions and material wealth, rather than…
There’s a website – Christmas.com – it’s all about Christmas, obviously. It claims to be ‘the Official site of Christmas’. Take a look. It’s all about buying crap. Even the ‘all things Christmas’ link has no mention of what Christmas is meant to be about – just more gift lists and ‘Top Christmas presents for Mum 2012’. It’s a horribly sad online confirmation of our increasingly consumerist ways. It takes a brave mum and dad (especially those who have little spare cash and whose children may have had to ‘go without’ during the year) to take a stand at Christmas. Buying your kids presents whenever you can throughout the year as an act of love and kindness is a wonderful thing to do. Getting yourself into masses of debt because society and the media tells you (and your children) that you’ve got to spend money you don’t have, is horrible.
I am aware that for most people I know Christmas has little to do with Christ’s Mass, or religion at all. I also understand that kids just love Christmas, and to explain to a young child why you don’t ‘do’ it is never going to be fully understood. It’s just easier and more fun to simply conform, and I totally understand why any parent would do it. But, wouldn’t it be fantastic if for one year families boycotted Christmas. Instead, they bought each other presents as an unprompted gesture of goodwill whenever they wanted. They sent cards to family and friends to say “hi”, to say they’re thinking about them. They organised family get-togethers because they want to. Meals with ‘all the trimmings’ were done when you want, because you want (or can), not because it’s expected. Good deeds and acts of kindness always occur, songs are always sung, gifts (no matter how small) are always unwrapped and games with the family are always played.
Charitable donations have fallen by 20% in real terms in the past year – that’s the equivalent of £1.7bn less being given to good causes. The recession has hit hard. Acts of goodwill and kindness are what make people amazing. To be kind to each other and generous in nature, especially in times of austerity, are traits that should be encouraged and applauded. Such things should happen because you want to, because you feel inspired to, not because (as is the case at Christmas) you feel like you have to.
The money section of the Guardian news website, usually a reliable source of information, has some interesting ideas on ‘Five ways to spend less at Christmas’…
- Use the right credit
- Take advantage of vouchers and cashback websites
- Reduce your Christmas travel bill
- Direct selling
- Take in a lodger
I like this response from ‘jayaess’ who doesn’t beat around the bush…
Buy less shit.