When I was a child, around five or six years old, Christmas was a magical time. We were practising Catholics and observed Christmas as a religious festival. That was Christmas. The nativity, with all that brought. We had a nativity scene in the house which was larger than the tree. It was a religious celebration of Christ. Shopping didn’t start in August but a couple of weeks prior to the 25th December. The shops, not many, had some trappings of commercialism, lights and glitter to attract people to enter and buy goods. I can remember hot chestnuts being cooked on the top of braziers, then being sold, Father Christmas arriving by train, and numerous parties for children. The market stalls in the high street had kerosene lamps lighting up their wares. It was warm and welcoming. People were friendly and greeted each other with seasonal good wishes.
On Christmas Eve we went to midnight mass and when we arrived home afterwards, we would have my father’s home made pork pie with ginger wine. The house was warm and cosy, Father Christmas hadn’t arrived yet. We children wolfed down the pies and wine, so that we could go to bed to sleep with huge anticipation of what would be happening the following morning. In the morning, or rather in the middle of the night, I would peer from under the eiderdown to see if there had been a visitor. One Christmas I remember seeing fairy lights draped across a big pram and lots of parcels with shiny bows and ribbons. “He’s been,” I shouted to my brothers, then dived into my gifts. We always had a stocking with nuts, fruit and sweets. The day was spent with family and relatives eating lots of chocolate and being sick. A very happy time.
Fast forward to 2022. I have over the years become very anti-Christmas and I am also an atheist. I see Christmas as a religious celebration. If you are a Christian, then it’s part of your beliefs, it shouldn’t be tainted with consumerism and exploitation. Christmas should be like any other religious festival, like Diwali or Holi, and many others which don’t attract consumerism. It shouldn’t necessitate people feeling they have to take part in the constant slog of purchasing that is expected today. I have known parents going into debt to buy the expected trappings of Christmas so their children don’t feel left out or bullied when they go back to school. Many are not able to answer the question, “And what did you get for Christmas?” asked by a well-off child, then be ridiculed because their present was modest.
I believe Christmas is a very stressful time for many. This year people will be struggling to eat and heat their homes. Many people won’t have a home but will be on the streets trying to survive. Many will be worried they may lose their homes in the coming months. I wonder why the rich and powerful flaunt the trappings of wealth. Is it to ensure that people know their place and their lot is all they deserve? This is a choice that the 1% make. They will go to church and thank their God for their offshore accounts and the villa in the Caribbean, with absolutely no thought for the rest of society.
I feel Christmas should have been cancelled as an acknowledgement of the distress of the majority of this country’s citizens. If people think I sound mean, they may be right. I find Christmas an absolute sham, and I won’t apologise for this. Bah Humbug!