Wednesday, 14 December 2011

And a Very Merry Christmas to You Too

Seems like a long time since I last wrote here as I haven't felt I've had much to say about anything, but as that feeling could end up carrying on indefinitely I decided to break the silence and dive right in....

We are heading inexorably into the festive season, which for me always brings a strange mix of heady childish glee coupled with an increasing sense of alienation from all the joyless hurrying hordes, shopping their little hearts out every weekend. Don't get me wrong, I've spent many a year scurrying along with the best of them, my hands twisted out of shape by the plastic strings of bulky carrier bag handles. The older I get however, the more I struggle with this rampant, ugly consumer frenzy.

An example of this is last weekend when we all took the Park and Ride into Plymouth to do our Christmas shopping. On the return journey, I watched as every single passenger struggled on board the bus clutching armfuls of enormous packages, each in a separate plastic bag, as I sat with our total purchases that day contained in two small paper bags. At home I have a pile of plain white tissue paper with which I intend to wrap our presents, which will no doubt be decorated by me and the girls with painted snowflakes and glitter. I bought a pack of cards from Jess's nursery featuring a snowman she'd drawn herself, any more that I need I will make myself. I have made as many gifts as my new-found craftiness and six-month-pregnant-looking-after-two-little-ones state can manage.

By no means am I saying that I'm leading some single-handed crusade against consumerism, I know there are many others who feel the same way, I think it just hits me harder when I do venture out into the tide of humanity because living as we do without TV and in quite an isolated rural situation it is very easy to build your own little world without being constantly bombarded by the need for material things. What I find most frustrating about this whole season, apart from the sheer quantity of crap that is heading straight into landfill in a few days' time and the senseless, guilt-ridden pressure to buy crap for people who just don't need any more crap in their lives, is the almost complete lack of warmth in the whole process - which is what the whole festival should be about.

This is how I probably look when Christmas shopping

In the bleakest, most dismal part of the year, a festival of twinkly lights and fires and colour which brings everyone together in warmth, love and companionship to share food and gifts and have a laugh together is surely a quite brilliant idea. Instead it has devolved into a grotesque mockery of a party, where people feel pressured to spend money they don't have on all this stuff. We've lost all sight of what we should be enjoying most and I don't see any way out as long as people continue to let themselves be sold the idea of Christmas and Santa's bulging sack.

The girls and I were in a charity shop last week and the elderly lady behind the till loomed over Jess and yelled "Are you looking forward to Christmas dear? And what have you asked Father Christmas to get you this year?" to which Jess looked at me then back to the crazy lady completely dumbstruck. Not only does she not have a clue who Father Christmas is (am I a bad mum? She's only three) but she wouldn't have the faintest idea what to ask for anyway. All she absolutely totally needs is to watch her daily three episodes of Charlie and Lola on BBC iPlayer for her little world to be complete.


  1. Santa can keep his bulging sack to himself!! ha! I think you summarised it well, its buying stuff/crap we can't afford for folk who don't need it! Also fortunately due to our sheltered existence mya wants a family of sock elephants and 108 mice...I'll make half adozen mice but 108 might be pushing it! James just continues to ramble on about combine harvesters...not so sure i can sew one of those!
    Eat, drink and be merry xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  2. Hey, I'm sure you could sew a combine harvester if you really tried! I guarantee we'll be doing all three - in the comfort of a centrally-heated house for a change: can't wait! :) xxx


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