Christmas used to be a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it has now become a celebration of consumerism. I might get to see family I don’t often get to see throughout the year, I may get a month off from university and I might get some cool presents, but that’s because I’m lucky to come from a family where everyone can afford Christmas. What happens when you can’t? What happens when you have to rely on charity or credit to make sure Santa pays a visit to your children? What happens when you’re still paying off last Christmas as this Christmas comes ever closer?
I’ve always been fortunate at Christmas. I don’t have any brothers or sisters and I’m generally (still) spoiled by my parents. I have a rather large extended family too, so there is always somewhere to go.
Last week, the BBC reported that after a survey on 118 of Barnardos services, demands for foodbank help over Christmas had risen by 94%. How can we even begin to comprehend the fact that some children will be sitting down to a Christmas dinner from a foodbank this Christmas? Especially when the rest of us are tucking in to a luxury turkey crown from Marks and Spencer (that admittedly, my mum has to save up for).
We need to spare a thought for those who are waking up with no Christmas presents under their trees tomorrow.
We are tricked into believing and thinking that Christmas is supposed to be a time of wealth and plenty. Where people are a bit more liberal about spending money whereas, at other times of the year, they may be a tad more careful. We are seduced with expensive consumer goods that the media and capitalist companies tell us we need. But not everyone has this money available to spend. People in Britain today are literally living from pay packet to pay packet. They cannot afford to save up money for Christmas. How do you even begin to imagine the look on your children’s faces when you tell them Santa ran out of Ipads?
We need to remember what the new, secular, Christmas is about. It’s about being together. It’s about being with people and having a good time. It isn’t about competing with each other to see who can buy your niece the best present. It isn’t about buying the biggest, must have new gadget. It’s about getting some time off from work and study to spend with your family.
So, merry Christmas to everyone. Spare a thought for those people who might be alone on Christmas day, or having to go to a foodbank. Have a good one.