Christmas, Carols, and Capitalism

Days become shorter, nights become longer, and, in the distance, the faint sounds of jingling can be heard. From a cave far, far away, Michael Bublé emerges once more to take radio stations across the globe hostage with his jazzy renditions of festive tunes. All this can mean only one thing.

Christmas is coming.

(We don’t encourage adopting this as a new pet-name for your Dearly Beloved)

Whether you’re the kind to bust out the Christmas tree (and lights, and tinsel, and stockings…) the very second Hallowe’en comes to an end, or consider yourself a modern-day take on The Grinch (hello, long-lost sibling), this time of year has an undeniable buzz to it.

The streets are decked with lights and festive decorations, much to the delight of children everywhere. Numerous Christmas get-togethers spring up, inclusive of open-bar, much to the delight of adults everywhere. And an absolute stampede of people barges its way into stores and shopping malls to purchase an avalanche of gifts. Thus begins the descent into sweet, sweet bankruptcy.

Somewhere down the line, Christmas became less about family, customs, and quality-time, and more about how many gifts we give, what kind of gifts we give, and what we’ve spent on them. Poor Karl Marx must be rolling in his grave at the very thought.

It seems as though our sense of humanity, love, and overall generosity is tied into how much we’ve shelled out on a person.

Fortunately for my maternal instincts, and unfortunately for my bank account, my immediate family also includes two mini-humans. This means that I know all too well of the ‘fun’ that surrounds the annual Christmas-shopping-spree for kiddo-gifts.

What to buy? How much to spend? Did we spend the same amount on each kid? Is one child’s pile of presents – now vaguely resembling Mount Fuji – larger than the other’s? In which case, should we get the clearly-less-fortunate child another gift to compensate, as this would obviously translate into one child being favoured over the other?

(In case you’ve not cottoned on, ‘Shopping for Christmas Gifts’ falls into the same category as ‘Being Chased by a Swarm of Killer Bees’ on my list of Fun Winter Activities)

Splurging isn’t just limited to our kids. You’d think, with the illusions of Santa Claus long behind us, that us adults would value quality time over materialistic goods. Nope.

The annual flurry of ‘Secret Santa’ requests flood in, not to mention the good ol’ “chipping in” for some extravagant (read: pricey) gift(s) to somebody of particular significance. Any sorts of objection to participating in such events are met with looks of pure disbelief, and outraged cries of “uwejja, where’s your Christmas spirit?”

I understand that all this may make me sound like the biggest killjoy to have graced the face of the Earth (other than the aforementioned Grinch). This is the time of year that’s typically reserved for showing love and gratitude to those closest to you. However, it’s rather ironic (and sad) that a holiday typically affiliated with the spirit of human kindness has since been replaced by an obsession with spending. Surely, Christmas is Christmas because of the ones we spend it with, rather than what was gifted to us, ad?

This is probably one of the few times of year many of us put effort into taking time out of our hectic schedules to meet those nearest and dearest to us. So, here’s an idea; use this annual gathering to express your gratitude to those people without breaking the bank. Get together, sit down, and enjoy a few laughs, and each other’s company.

Alternatively, you can contribute something truly priceless by being charitable towards those who are less fortunate. A great way to do this is by donating to local food banks, and – if you’re brave enough! – our national blood bank (and those who rely on blood products) could always use some help.

It’s your presence (rather than presents) which really counts and which your loved ones will always remember. And if there’s ever a time to spread the love, do good, and generally be a better human, it’s Christmas.

(And hey, at any rate, there’s always Prosecco and Christmas lunch to look forward to).

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