It seems to me as if Black Friday brawls, dreadful debt and gratuitous gift-giving has taken everything away from what used to be a traditional time of family, faith and goodwill. For some reason it is spending and commercialisation that has defined our reason for the Christmas season.
Consider something as simple as Coca-Cola truck, for example, which tours around the country as if it’s somehow intrinsically linked to Christmas. Since 1931, Coca-Cola has had a bunch of Christmas adverts with images of Santa-Claus to sell their products. Believe it or not, the fat man who delivers the presents actually wore green before the company got their hands on him through the advertising industry. Now we flock to get our selfies with the red truck, to see the ‘Coca-Cola-red’ Santa and take our free Coke – why?… So Coca-Cola can strategically make us a part of their product promotion this Christmas. Then, of course, we have John Lewis who makes their long-awaited heart-wrenching Christmas advert each year. In 2013 we had ‘The Bear and the Hare’, in 2014, ‘Monty the Penguin’, in 2015 we had ‘The Man on the Moon’ and this year we have ‘Buster the Boxer’. In 2014 alone, John Lewis managed to sell out its Monty the Penguin toys which were £95 each and boosted sales by 300%. In reality, it’s a Christmas campaign to draw us into their department store, because, well… Apparently, at Christmas, we don’t mind spending £95 on a 35cm stuffed toy! My final example of Christmas commercialism is the Christmas list, made longer and more expensive thanks to the work of Argos and Toys-R-Us, who delight in bringing catalogues out as the Christmas season begins. “What would you like from Santa Claus this year?” suddenly amounts to a £200 new bike, £100 video games, a £300 new console, a £500 IPhone 5 and another £300 on “some other little bits-and-bobs just to wrap up”. Parents are stressed out, and we’re all skint and roped into following unnecessary social-media fads and campaigns which promise to bring us an “authentic” Christmas. But, are we any happier when we wake up on Christmas morning or spend the week trying to find places for gifts and ways to lose the weight?
“Parents are stressed out and we’re all skint!”
I would argue, not at all. You see, Christmas has become purely based on consumption that never truly satisfies. It’s unnecessary and serves no real purpose at all, even when it comes to traditionalism and finding “the meaning of Christmas” because, it’s meaning is totally lost. The “true meaning” of Christmas, is found in the celebration of the Nativity of Christ, one that is focussed on faith and the realities of a joy that the Coca-Cola Christmas truck can never truly provide. It’s probably better expressed by Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ than it is, even by John Lewis; that even an ‘old miser’ like Mr Scrooge can never find his true contentment through money, self-gain or possession. As the Christian season celebrates, the reason for the season is Christ; true joy and rejuvenation, love, peace and hope…