The first Xmas catalogue has already arrived and,
as I write, it's sodding July! HOWL!!! And it's
only going to get worse for the next FIVE
MONTHS!!! I can feel the stress building already. Good thing I'm
on fluoxetine hydrochloride (B.P. version of Prozac.)
So if you love me, please don't waste your
money on me; I am not worthy. Just make a donation to your favourite charity
and call it quits. That's what I'll be doing, because I just can't take it any
more. Besides, a donation to Shelter - a charity for homeless people - seems
more in keeping with the spirit of Xmas anyway.
Why do I loathe Xmas? Why does it send me spiralling
into a blue funk every year? Oh, so many reasons.
It's supposed to be religious festival - like Diwali
or Hanukkah. I don't have a problem with that. The thing is that only one in
ten professed Xtians attends the local church on a regular basis. That's
probably fewer people than those who attend temples or synagogues. So why don't
we go over the top in celebrating their festivals too?
I don't subscribe to any religious faith, certainly
not Xtianity. No way can I conflate the "loving father" with the
monstrous "jealous god" who wanted Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, as
a blood sacrifice to prove his devotion to Jehovah.
[ Good job there were no Social Services back then, as
they would undoubtably have got the blame for it if Abraham had done it.
Abraham would, of course, have got away with it because saying "God told
me to" would show he wasn't right in the head... ]
Jesus preached peace, forgiveness and unconditional
love, as did most religious figureheads. I like that idea. So why can't we
agree to differ and all just get along, instead of indulging in a
playgroundesque game of 'My God's better than your God?'
Speaking of playgrounds, I feel that the most
iniquitous thing about the 21st century Xmas is that it's made out to be
"all about the children" who must not be disappointed, come
Seriously? Life is full of
disappointments, so not getting everything you want at Xmas is a good
preparation for life in the real world.
Yet so many people would rather get into debt than
deprive their kids of presents they can't afford and which will probably be
cast aside before New Year - and seen at half-price or less in the January
sales? Is it a good idea to teach children that they're entitled to everything
they want? When they want it? That the world revolves around them and their
Why not go the whole hog and wrap the kids in
cottonwool until they're eighteen and then release them into the wild where
they'll be sitting ducks for every scam going.
In any case, whatever you buy them, however much you
spend, they will be disappointed. This is because nothing you give them
will be as good as what they envisioned, what they saw on television or what
their friends have got, plus you'll have bought them the wrong version of the
computer games they craved, or the wrong make of trainers. And how grateful
will they be when the bailiffs come knocking? Because that's one of the worst
things about Xmas; those who can least afford it are the ones who get most
deeply sucked into the whole competitive present-buying scam.
I was a Samaritan volunteer for ten years and spent a
three or four hour shift on duty at our local branch on Xmas Day and Boxing
Day. I can give no details about this as we take a vow of confidentiality, much
as the clergy do. All I can say is that Xmas is Hell for an awful lot of
people. And things have to get really bad for someone to spend Xmas Day on the
'phone to The Samaritans. 8-(
It seems that the worst crime of Xmas is to be
conspicuously broke - so that financial state has to be hidden, and big
businesses cash in on this. Hence stores are heaving with desperate people, and
shopping centres become no-go areas for those of us who don't like crowds.
Supermarkets are just as bad. Are we all really
going to eat - and drink - so very much more than we usually do?
Sure, we'll have family and friends dropping in from time to time, but then,
we'll be visiting family and friends too. The net result has to be that we'll
eat pretty much the same as we usually do, so what's with the fatted calf - or
do I mean gigantic turkey?
This conspicuous consumption all seems so much worse
when one considers that so many people on our planet never get
enough to eat. What's Xtian about that? Oh wait! We buy Xmas cards from Oxfam,
so that'll do then; we've done our bit for the poverty-stricken.
Um no, we haven't. A few pence per card probably works
out less than the crumbs from a rich man's table when shared out amongst all
the starving masses - whose children will definitely be disappointed this Xmas
and most Xmases thereafter, assuming they live that long...
Then there are Xmas decorations. In some places, you
can spend as much money on a single Xmas tree bauble as would feed a
third-worlder for a year. I've come to view that as verging on evil.
You might think I'm a self-satisfied sanctimonious
prig who thinks she's so much better than the rest of you. I don't. No
way! Just because I've chosen to get off the Xmas bandwagon doesn't
make me a saint. Heaven forfend! However much one gives, it's never enough, and
I am ashamed of not giving more. 8-(