When I was a young boy, Christmas of course was all about getting presents. Early Christmas Morn when the house was still and quiet, I would send my younger brother out on a scout and report-back mission. He’d tiptoe quietly out to the Living-room, get a quick look at the Christmas tree now surrounded with presents and report his findings back to me. Were there a lot of presents? Any Big ones? Did you see any for me?
As children, Christmas morning was beyond excitable. Later as adults we got this same feeling all over again watching our children’s excitement as they rushed to the present-crowded decorated tree. Once they had grown into adulthood we would then bask in the glow of their children and if we’re lucky, theirs as well. Christmas it seems, is all about the laughter and joy of children. At least it is for me.
After all, what would Christmas be — if not for the children?
Christmas can be a time of joyous celebration. For those of devout faith it holds its own special meaning but for most of the rest of us it’s a time for family, relatives and good friends. For the giving and receiving of presents and the joy on all our faces. For still others though, it’s a time of loneliness, depression and regret. Christmas can be many things I suppose, depending on ones current situation in life.
CHRISTMAS THE BAD!
Take for instance the overplayed consumerism attached to this day and its resulting consequences. The insistent Ads making their appearance months in advance urging you to buy, buy, buy! The ensuing shopping frenzy, overflowing the already busy streets and in the malls where you find yourself shoulder to shoulder in the overcrowded stores. Available parking disappears, stores run out of stock and consumers seem to quickly run out of patience. And sometimes, good manners as well in our frantic rush to find the perfect gift.
Perhaps you have you long given up the traditional aggravation of Christmas store-shopping and now join the millions who shop on-line? Ordering your gifts ahead of time then simply waiting for your packages to arrive while in the quiet hassle-free comfort of your homes. This seems to be the wave of the future. Perhaps even one day eliminating the need for malls and stores altogether? But this is yet a tough turn for the older generation.
I myself come from a generation well before online shopping. Even before the Internet itself was born. I still like to see products with my own eyes, touch them, turn them in my hands while evaluating their quality. I have a hard time buying something simply by looking at a photo rendition or Image. I don’t trust the descriptive overview and/or the 5 star ratings with so-called impartial selected consumer reviews?
I’m old enough (and experienced enough) to understand that advertising and marketing is geared for one thing and one thing only. To get you to buy their product no-matter what it takes. Including embellishing, misrepresentation and tricks of the trade. And be sure, Online product-selling is no different!
Hey Its advertising for Pete’s sake! We all know (or should know by now) the embellishing haloed light they shine on their products? And now they want me to buy them without even physically seeing them? I don’t think so! Especially at Christmas when rush-returning may not fit into our “need them now” restricted time frame?
To think that online shopping may one day be the only means of shopping frankly gives me the willies. It’s the ultimate marketing ploy of retailers advantage. To me, buying from an Image — seems Ludicrous?
Even if you do buy most of your gifts online, there’s still the grocery shopping? The grocery stores at this time of year can be just as crazy as the malls. The beer and Liquor stores? The gas stations? Heck, just driving your car anywhere this time of year can be a frustrating experience. Slow bumper to bumper traffic, red light to red light, all in the name of Christmas consumerism.
Unless you’re a “Happy Pill” user, these few weeks leading up to Christmas can admittedly be stressful. Can cause frustration and aggravation. This is what happens when retailers, marketers and advertising agencies alike unite and collude amongst themselves. Who do you think started this mandatory gift-giving protocol on Christmas anyways? Or at least took this once small little tradition and then expanded its meaning 100-fold into a profitable public buying frenzy.
So now, we in the modern world are trapped. There is no going back now. You better have gifts to give come Christmas morn. and yours should be better than the gifts from others! More expensive. More intuitive. The perfect gift! After all, you want to win don’t you? Win the battle of Christmas gift-giving and be this years hero no-matter the debt to be payed later.
This is advertising worming its way inside your head. This is how they portray Christmas at our expense. Not only getting us to all buy at one time but buy more and more expensively as well. To them, Christmas is one big happy profit reaping. The perfect consumer trap. And oh how they take advantage of it all. Individual store bogus sale-days, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing day, extended store hours, expanded window dressing, lights and store decorations, in-store Christmas music and on and on and on.
But I digress. And I must. Because for most of my life I’ve been apart of it all too. I have driven in amongst the overflowing traffic, shopped the crowed malls, spent hours looking for the perfect gift and in the end spent too much money. We all have. Why? In-part because of the children and because at heart, I believe, we are a charitable species. We enjoy giving gifts. We enjoy how it makes us feel.
Our reward seems to come more in the giving, than in the receiving.
CHRISTMAS THE GOOD!
Yet who among us cannot recall that one special Christmas. The children’s excited faces as they race to see what’s under the tree. The presents wrapping’s torn from the boxes laying everywhere haphazardly strewn on the floor. Later the smells from the kitchen as the family’s Christmas feast is being prepared. Friends and relatives appearing at the door to join in the celebration. The laughter, the merriment, the reunions.
Perhaps an Uncle has one-to-many and falls asleep in his chair? Or the dog steals some turkey while no one is watching? It all seems worthwhile. The stressful days before and the oversized bills that come later get not a thought on this day. We are with family and good friends and we have given our presents and basked in the glow of their happy faces.
Christmas can also be the rare time when we think of the needs of the less fortunate. We drop coins into the plastic receptacles of the many charitable organization services strewn throughout the malls. We buy extra groceries and give to the local food-banks. Some write cheques, donate clothing or organize their own charitable food drives. Christmas can bring out the very best in us, in our caring for the human species.
Yet for me, Christmas looses most of its magic once you take children out of the equation. When your children have grown and theirs as well, shopping seems more of a hassle than a joy. Without the extra push of children-shopping adrenaline, energy quickly wanes as does ones patience in the crowed streets and malls. The search for the perfect gift seems less important. Now, quickly filling out your list and being done is what you really want. No, at my age and without many children gifts left to buy, its just not the same anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on Christmas. But at this stage of my life — I’m definitely down on the hassles of Christmas shopping! (see WOW post — Christmas Shopping Blues.)
But in the end on Christmas day, surrounded by family and friends, the children running excitably full of adrenaline, it all seems worthwhile. If your blessed like me, a huge decorated table laden with home-made cooking awaits. And best of all, its surrounded by the ones you love the most.
This for me is the meaning of Christmas. This for me makes it all worthwhile.
How about You?
THE WORD OF WAYNE
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” — Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!