Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas - Call me Scrooge

Call me Scrooge.

I'm not a Christian, and yet the idea of being bright-eyed and wide awake at midnight, on a quiet winter's night, in a church that has never felt so warm, holding a candle that has never seemed so bright, with a bunch of strangers who feel closer than family to me, and celebrating the birth of my Saviour gives me butterflies in my tummy. The idea of pouring my heart and soul into one day to make it so special, the idea of giving small and yet meaningful gifts simply to show that I care about someone, the idea of, as a form of celebration, going out of my way to show charity and generosity to those who rarely see it, and the idea of rejoicing in all that we have to be thankful for, is so so beautiful to me.

Too bad that that’s not what I see in Christmas around here, no matter how hard I try. For some reason we now think that happiness is associated with over-indulgence. Christmas is about excessive expenditure rather than real joy. There is a new Lord in town... Santa Claus is the new Jesus Christ. Over-eating and getting drunk is the new laughter and joy. Greed is the new charity. Selfishness is the new goodwill.

Commercialisation has convinced us that Christmas can't exist without mass expenditure. Christmas starts in August. As does the stress. Goodwill now doesn't involve giving to the less fortunate, but it involves satisfying your screaming spoiled little children by buying them something they neither need nor can afford simply because they demanded it. And you can't refuse their demands, because they believe in Santa. Our refusal to live in moderation always leaves us in a mild state of misery afterwards. Over the top consumerism and selfishness will only lead to empty wallets and depression, not happiness. This whole "Christmas is a good excuse to get together with the family" just says it all. We've lost our family values to the extent that we actually need an excuse to force us to get together... and then we spend the rest of the year neglecting each other. Is that all Christmas is? An excuse?

The complete and utter disregard of a religious festival upsets me. But the complete and utter disregard for traditional values—family, charity, thanksgiving, and in particular, contentment—upsets me more. These are the values that make Christmas so beautiful... and for some reason, they're rarely there. So when someone tries to knock me down with their stuck-up “well, THAT’S not very Christmassy!” comment, all I can reply with is “Neither are you”.

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