I love Christmas. I really do. I always have.
But, but, all the Black Friday nonsense last week really got me thinking: has Christmas in the modern age been reduced to who can get the cheapest 42 inch TV? Really?
The commercialisation of Christmas destroys almost all of the magic that was so synonymous with the season when I was growing up.
What about joy and goodwill to all men (and women).
What about being thankful for all the things we’ve already got: life, health, a house, food, warmth. Many people don’t have those things, and if you’re one of them, a 42 inch TV would be worse than useless.
I heard a quote once, I can’t remember where, but it went something like:
The difference between being rich and being wealthy is having what you need when you need it.
A rich man with millions in the bank might be stranded in the sea without a life belt or a boat. All the money in the world couldn’t save him from drowning. Or sharks. But if he had a boat, even if that’s all he had, he’d be wealthy.
I don’t think I really told that right, but you get what I mean.
And I know everything boils back down to Maslow in the end, and the Hierarchy of Needs, but it is as relevant now as it ever was. The accumulation of material possessions and conspicuous consumption appears to be the route to self-actualisation for many people.
Walking round some of the high street stores last week, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sickened by the huge ‘SALE’ labels and posters advertising ‘40%’ off. It seemed to devalue things that I might once have considered buying.
Department stores appear like labyrinths of shiny tiles, mirrors, glitz, scent and trickery.
I was looking for a particular item to buy as a gift, and when I asked where this item might be in the store, I was asked ‘what brand’ I was looking for. I wasn’t looking for a particular brand. I just wanted a good, solid, well-made version of this particular item. The assistant stared back at me blankly, unable to direct me further.
I left with nothing.
Naomi Klein’s book ‘No Logo’ sprung to mind.
When I heard that Christmas Day had become a ‘huge’ selling day in the Internet age, I was shocked. It would never cross my mind to start shopping online on Christmas Day.
I know I’d rather be wealthy in love, friends, thoughts, dreams, memories, experiences and the riches of gratitude, than have another TV that I don’t want to watch.
And I’ve told my family I don’t want presents this Christmas, except perhaps just one thoughtful and practical item. Not because I’m against gift-giving or anything like that, but because I already have everything that I need, and I’m grateful.
And I think that’s something to celebrate.