Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Go on, you know you want to... Christmas spirit is contagious, no matter what your beliefs

I love Christmas and everything about it. And yet, I’m not religious.
So to many, I’m probably the epitomy of everything that’s “wrong” with Christmas.
As with every year, the complaints have gone on about how Christmas has become commercialised and turned from a holy day into a profit-driven holiday.
Well, bah humbug to that, because I think it’s great, and here’s my list of reasons why:

  • People whine about the decorations going up on the shelves in late September, but there’s a good reason for it: men. They need at least 90 days to figure out that it's that time of year and they have to buy gifts, and even then it’s left till Christmas Eve. It’s like Chinese water torture. Each time they see those decorations adorning the shopping centres and city streets, it’s another tap on their head that Christmas is here. (Sticking the catalogues to the back of the toilet door helps too.)

  • The televisions advertisements start early, for good reason. You can’t leave Christmas advertising till the last minute. Imagine Christmas Eve watching Fawlty Towers reruns when suddenly you see the Myer sale for women’s handbags and men’s aftershave. Oops, too late to get that for Mum and Dad now, they’ll just have to enjoy the hankies and soap on a rope instead.
  • Christmas creates employment. Millions of people around the world have gained employment as a direct result of commercialisation of Christmas, and if it was just a holy day reserved only for Christians, those millions would be out of work. The event brings people from all walks of life together.
  • At Christmas, everyone can sing. You can be tone deaf, but you’ll never be booted out of the crowd at Carols by Candlelight. The more singing there is, the more brighter the stars seem to shine.
  • There is a line of thought that commercialisation encourages materialism, but only if you go out and buy presents for yourself! We buy for our partners, our children, our parents and our friends and there’s nothing better than seeing their faces light up when they see what we’ve given them. If it was about materialism, we’d buy our own gifts, wrap them up, then shout “it’s just what I’ve always wanted” when we open them. To me, it’s not about materialism, but giving to others. In this regard, many people will give to charities, sponsor a World Vision child, or volunteer their time, while bigger corporations profiting from Christmas spending make sizable donations.
  • Food brings people together - the ratings for MasterChef have proven that fact. And at what other time of year do we dish out gingerbread men, Christmas cake and rum balls to our work colleagues. The sweet treats at Christmas make for one very happy workplace, and likewise, a very happy family.

  • Finally, since this is a parenting column, Christmas is more about children and family, than any fake snow or tinsel hung in stores. To Christians it is the celebration of the birth of a child, and children are what bring the spirit of giving and love to life at this time of year. My father has decorated the entire outside of his highset house with lights for just one person - his only grandchild - and all so we can see the look of joy on her face. Santa photos are part of the tradition too, and this year my daughter lost her previous fear of the man with the big white beard, ran up to him and asked him for a bike for Christmas. She even remembered to say “please”. The innocence of each child dreaming that their Christmas wishes might come true if they are good is absolute gold for every parent. It’s one of the reasons parents love November and December. In our house, my daughter knows that I have Santa’s phone number and if she misbehaves I could easily pick up the phone and tell the big man himself what she has been up to. It works every time.

If you’re the type of person who spends too much, eats too much, drinks too much, leaves the shopping till 2am on those crazy 24 hour shopping days, then good on you! You’re the ones keeping the economy on it’s feet and retailers smiling. I couldn’t care less if you end up with a horrendous credit card debt in the new year, you’ve saved Christmas from becoming as bland and boring as compost (take note Kim Morris).
My family, on the other hand, stick to our budgets, write lists in November (so we never get gifts we don’t want), and we never have fights with relatives that other families seem to have.
It’s the only day of the year, we truly appreciate each other’s company, laugh with each other, talk to each other, ignore the differences of opinion and simply be happy and grateful that we have each other and that we are loved.
Merry Christmas to all!


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