Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bah humbug!

Bah humbug!
I'm a lot Grinch. I'm a little Ebenezer Scrooge.

I know a lot of people just simply hate Christmas. I'm one of them. I know a lot of people tolerate Christmas because it's forced upon us, it's expected, and it's almost impossible to escape. I'm one of them, too.

And I know a lot of people HATE people like me. Whether they actually love Christmas, or just can't admit that they secretly hate it and don't like being reminded of that, a part of the expectation is that we put on a happy face, crank up the Royal Guardsmen, and gird our loins as we muscle our way through The Warehouse checking our list twice and crossing off names as we buy trinkets made by poor little Chinese children who probably don't even know what Christmas is! I wonder, though (if they do do Christmas) do those little Chinese children wake up on Christmas day, open their presents and go "Hey! I made that!"?

Do we all have a traumatic Christmas memory? I do. Which is undoubtedly why I've hated Christmas all my life. I won't bore you with the details, but it's something my seven or eight year old mind has never recovered from, and while I'm able to put it into context now, it's a bit like that lesson that did the Facebook rounds a few weeks ago where the teacher got the children to screw up a piece of paper and then try to flatten it out again. No matter how hard the kids tried or wanted to erase the wrinkles, it wasn't going to happen. Those wrinkles would never disappear, they are the effects of the violence done to the paper. Our minds retain the effects of violence done to it when it's young and impressionable, and those scars we carry for the rest of our lives.

So Christmas has, for me, always had a negative shadow hanging over it. And if you haven't already noticed, I'm a little cynical about most things. So, is it inevitable that I feel a bit grouchy this time of year?

Joshua loves it, of course. He's excited. But it's all about the presents. It is a small source of frustration, or perhaps perplexion (is that a word?) to Jackie that we have not given Josh any religious instruction or even guidance at all. To be fair, I have NO IDEA what to tell him. I can tell him what some people believe; I can tell him what I believe; I can tell him what the many other theories are; but in the end it is, I believe, impossible to tell a seven year old about God and Jesus and the church if your goal is to give him a balanced, healthy view of it all. It may be unfair to some to teach him it's just a myth like Hansel and Gretel or Ben 10; I can't tell him it's the truth about the Universe; and it's impossible to explain to him the intricacies of a very complex belief system, which seems to be the only way to do it justice. 

It was easy to teach seven year olds what I once believed (mostly). It's a lot harder to tell Josh about something many people still believe, but I don't.

Anyway, It's all about the presents. As much as we would like "the thought" to count, it seems in many psyches it has nothing to do with the thought, but everything to do with the dollar value. That's either the cause or the effect of the rampant commercialism surrounding Christmas (and other holidays, such as Halloween - New Zealand did not celebrate Halloween until the marketing gurus, profiteers and retail geniuses convinced us it's a cool thing to celebrate). 

A few purists still hang on to the quaint idea that making gifts is cute. But it is to my shame that I'm pretty sure Josh would baulk at the thought of getting some recycled paper products and some cool hand-knitted socks for Christmas. And I know there are some very cool ideas for hand-made gifts, but let's be honest. None of them are going to compare with the latest Transformers figurines, Skylanders for Wii or Hogwarts Castle in Lego.

So what's really left to say about Christmas? Sure it would be nice for it to be a stress-free time for families to bond. Domestic violence figures attest that it is anything but for many families. It would be great to chill with friends and eat ourselves into a stupor for two weeks, but for many, grocery prices are simply prohibitive. How do families with children, but parents who have to work right through, perhaps even on the stat days, cope with the kids out of school for six weeks? How can we in all good conscience open expensive presents in the morning and sit down to a meal literally fit for Kings when just down the road or across town there are families who don't have enough to eat every other day of the year, and especially at this time of year.

Joshua's Decile 10 school class went to Christ's College to sing carols. We put presents under the tree for "less fortunate children". Why are there "less fortunate children" in the 21st Century? The incongruity of that act (putting those presents under that tree) was probably completely missed by all of the children, and most of the adults (or is that unfair?).

It seems to be a very draining time, Christmas. Perhaps there are emotions running deep that creep to the surface and hold us to ransom, demanding more resources than we have. I tell the older kids every year that we're not doing Christmas this year. Every year we do Christmas.

One of these years we won't.


Tracey Edwardes said...

Thanx for the merry musings.'Suppose we have to pick one day a year to get tacky and tinsley. Always bemused me too how some people adore xmas and others cringe like the must be down to memories and whether or not you like almond icing?

Anonymous said...

I dont do Christmas well. I am not a fan of Christmas. I find it stressful, frustrating and expensive. There really is nothing relaxing about Christmas at all.
I dont know if it is the result of my job, which winds up to maniacal proportions in the week leading up to Christmas, whereas a lot of other jobs tend to wind down. I also have to put up with a lot of abuse and stressful people and perhaps I tend to feed off it. I also dont have a great imagination when it comes to buying presents and despite telling myself to do it earlier, I dont.
Possibly the one and only thing I like doing is sending cards, but then that is only because I make them..but this year, they havent arrived,so this has added to my frustration.
I dont usually put decorations up, but because I was having tea here, I felt I had to, so I dragged out the fake fibre optic tree up on Thursday. It has now been thrown into the mud at the back of garage after falling and breaking beyond repair on Friday.
The cards I had up, are now all behind the China cabinet and i cant get at them..
So it just all goes to prove, I shouldnt do Christmas.. groan, moan.
But the day has come and gone. I was out for lunch and tea. I ate too much. I still havent bought my best friends a present.. I would usually get a family present..Oh it was ordered but the shop is now shut and still shut..thanks again quake.
And to top it all off I got a toilet seat for Christmas..okay so it is a top of the market one, it is still a toilet seat!!!!!
I rest my case for not liking christmas.