Three's A'loud

The problem with Christmas

My name is Susan and I love Christmas. And when I say I love Christmas, I mean I love Christmas. I am one of those people who plan the gifts and the meals and the special drinks and all the pre-Christmas parties with friends from early July. I love the lights and the over-eating and most of all I love watching Hugh Grant dancing down the stairs in Love Actually.

I do, however, also have a few problems with Christmas. And since someone was crazy enough to give me this platform I will share them all with you one by one. So keep on reading because this will be more fun than singing along to Boney M at the top of your voice.

  • The first problem with Christmas:
    The commercialisation of Christmas

    Retail chains have traded the joy of Christmas bells ringing for the joy of cashier tills ringing. It sucks. Such is life.

  • The second problem with Christmas:
    People complaining about the commercialisation of Christmas

    Seriously, if I overhear one more hipster with ombre hair in Tashas dramatically waving a manicured pinky around complaining about how ffffffffake Christmas is, I will throw their Turkish delight cocktail in their face. Companies are successful because they trade. Incidentally a LOT of trade happens over Christmas time. Yes, Christmas is a very special time of the year and we need to remember the reason for it all. It is also a time for family and if you have small children like I do, the joy of Christmas includes heaps of gifts and tons of sweets. That’s okay. My kids will still turn out okay if they open their gifts instead of staring into the distance contemplating the real reason for it all. And guess what… someone has to sell me those gifts and those sweets (and the heartburn tablets for the next day.) Let them sell it. Let them advertise it with creepy old men screaming ho-ho-ho and reindeer that look a little bit like impala. You are an adult with control over your actions and your wallet. If you don’t want to spend all your money over Christmas time, please don’t spend all your money over Christmas time. If you don’t want to be settling your Christmas debt until August, then step away from the pretty display. It is not Raymond Ackerman’s fault if you have no self-control.

  • The third problem with Christmas:
    Trying to have a politically correct Christmas

    I celebrate the 25th December as the birth of Christ. It is a very special day for me and the cornerstone of my faith. During this time you might be celebrating nothing. Or you might be celebrating a non-religious Christmas. Or you might be celebrating Hannukah or Kwanzaa or Bodhi Day. If you are, please shout it from the rooftops. Please share your specific traditions and beliefs with me on Facebook, in the workplace and when we meet at our kids’ birthday parties. I will be doing the same: I will take pride in my faith and convictions without being ashamed, without fear of insulting you and without trying to “bring you over to my side.” It is who I am. I will not apologise. I will not call it “The Festive Season” just in case my believing in Jesus is offensive to you. If you are that easily offended, maybe the problem is with you and not with me. When did we become so scared of who we are and what we stand for? Take pride but be respectful. Love. That is what this time of the year is all about. In pretty much every religion or non-religion.

  • The fourth problem with Christmas:
    No-one wraps anymore

    Wrapping Christmas gifts has become a lost art. These days we just grab a pretty paper-bag in the Woolies check-out line, drop a pair of socks in it and plonk the whole thing down under the Christmas tree. Come Christmas morning, we pick up the bag respectfully, peak inside calmly and flash the giver a kind smile. “Oh, thank you that is a beautiful book.”

    Stop it! Wrap it! I want sellotape and bows and kitsch handmade cards. And come Christmas morning, I will give you the joyful tearing of paper and pure delight as I find a real surprise inside. I will actually touch your gift, brushing my hand over the beautiful new book-cover, flipping through a few pages and reading a quick paragraph before thanking you with a hug and some enthusiasm. That’s a wrap.

  • The fifth problem with Christmas:
    Getting a piece of the peace

    Christmas is a time of peace for all of mankind.

    Except if you have kids.

    If you have kids then the only peace you will have this Christmas is a piece of the Christmas pudding. If you’re lucky. Christmas in the 21st century is a far cry from the serene manger in Bethlehem. And when I say “a far cry”, I mean it quite literally. Less donkeys neighing respectfully and more squeaky toys and play-cellphones beeping and ringing and hooting and driving you insane. Less wise men kneeling in reverence with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh and more grandparents laughing gleefully when they hand over gifts of TV Games, i-pads and remote control cars. The gleeful laughing, of course, has very little to do with the joy of Christmas and a whole lot to do with knowing that they can go home later and enjoy the left-over Christmas pudding in peace. You however, will be tripping over discarded empty boxes and stepping on legos. This tripping and stepping will be done on your way to the kitchen to wash the avalanche of dirty plates, cups and glasses left after the Christmas meal.

    But just before you lose all hope, here’s the thing: the noise means you are not alone over Christmas. For thousands of people this time of the year is a very sad lonely time so being surrounded by the madness might not be such a bad thing after all. The running and beeping and screaming and hooting means your kids are happy and healthy. The dirty dishes mean that, although your life might not be perfect, you were able to afford a Christmas meal. So maybe, quite possibly, the fifth problem with Christmas is actually a huge blessing. Maybe, quite possibly we need to just breathe, leave the dirty dishes a little longer, sit flat on the carpet and open the (properly wrapped) Christmas gifts with our kids. Laugh and hug and spend some quality time with the people you love most most of the time.

Christmas is a time for awe and reverence about the greatest Gift ever given. It’s about family. It’s about love. And inevitably, it’s about Hugh Grant taking off his tie and dancing down the stairs in that crisp white shirt.

This article was first published on Master of Quills


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