Thoughts on Christmas

I know it’s not popular and I’m not the first to mention it, but I’m just going to say it anyway.

I don’t like Christmas.

There is not a single redeeming factor to the whole thing. It’s depressing and false and it’s a pain, whether you have money or not. Below I’ve listed the most common arguments for it.

Seeing the Family

You could, if you wanted, see the family any time of the year. That we don’t is indicative of the problem. Family are the people who you have to like, and if they weren’t related, blood or legally, you wouldn’t give them the time of day. Those you like, you get together with during the year like real friends, and then at Christmas times share a collective rolling of the eyeballs over dinner.
For the others, especially the seniors, you just lie through your teeth about how well things are going for you, and no, thank you, I’ve eaten enough, and yes, I am still with the girl so-and-so, no, we haven’t any children, of course the wedding tackle functions fine, thank you. It’s tedious, awkward and you can’t wait to get out. The joining together of family members is underlined not with true affection, but with obligatory guilt. We all know it, so why do we keep doing it? It’s completely dishonest.

The Food

Perhaps the only redeeming factor on the face of it is the food, that wasteful pile of cholesterol-laden, heart-attack inducing cuisine. You eat, and hey presto, you feel tired, and then with crushing inevitability, some bright spark will mention that, guys, it’s the tryptophan that’s causing it. Let me put the record straight.
A grown man would have to eat forty-five pounds of turkey for it have any effect whatsoever on the body. Here’s why if you want to go in more depth. You can also quote that at the table and silence the idiot who every year ‘wows’ people with his or hers extensive medical knowledge.

I simply cannot wait to start chowing down on my Christmas dinner before images of starving people from around the world start flooding my brain and I suddenly feel very guilty when I return for seconds. The whole image of the horrible excesses of the consumer Christmas sits there and watches me when I gorge on that stuff. Dish after dish of enough food to feed a family of six for a fortnight consumed within the space of an hour by a group of people who, lets be honest, don’t really need to be cramming any more grub down their throats. Will I be packaging some roast potatoes and turkey into a soggy envelope and sending it to those poor souls who do without? No. But the guilt remains.

It’s for the Kids

This one might as well be titled, Lets Keep the Economy Going On Our Own because that’s all you’re doing. The kids, that is those who don’t prefer the packaging box rather than the hundred-dollar toy that is inside, don’t need any toys until they can learn to quit the A.D.D. meds, the Prozac, Ritalin and any of the other drug cocktails. When you’re on those, anything is fun to play with, including bits of masonry and kitchen cutlery. Trying to profess that you love Christmas because it’s fun seeing the children get so excited they can hardly breathe is futile. The kids care not a jot about Jesus, the birth of Christianity or a star in the sky. You can’t teach them ‘Christmas Spirit’ because they don’t care. All they care about is getting STUFF. Piles and piles of STUFF, so much STUFF that it reaches the ceiling and overflows into the dining room. What happened to just getting a hoop and a stick for Christmas? Nobody needs that much, and frankly, I think it’s sick that we teach kids to expect that. Just because we are zombies to the consumer establishment and make purchasing decisions because a commercial looked pretty and said so, there’s no sane reason to inject that kind of ideology into children.
If Christmas is actually about the family, then don’t give gifts to children because the Coca-Cola franchise Santa (he used to be green) wants you to. I’m not going to get into lying to the kids that Santa exists at all, because we lie to children all the time. It’s the nature of them expecting hundreds of dollars worth of STUFF when they barely appreciate the value of anything. They simply do not need all that STUFF.

It’s for Baby Jesus

Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th of December, the New Testament does not specify a date, if the man existed at all. The origins of Christmas come from the Christianizing of pagan festivals and customs, which did not revolve around the birth of a messiah. The word ‘Yule’ is the name of a Scandinavian pagan festival. Just about every other religion around the world disputes both the timing and importance of Christmas at all. They can’t all be right.

There is no historical evidence that Jesus was born where he was, or that the kings came to visit him. Shepherds probably wouldn’t have been tending lambs in December, no matter which part of the globe they were tending them in. The only census recorded at the time was 6BC. No astronomical data can prove ‘The Star of Bethlehem’ (the only thing astronomical about Christmas is the money we waste for this one day). I could go on, and any historian worth his salt could too.

I know I sound like a typical stuck-up atheist, the kind that ruins dinner parties, but if most historical data suggests huge holes in the Nativity myth, what are we celebrating for? Symbolism? And do we think that any one of the companies that make literally billions from Christmas period really care about the birth of Christ? No. The religious overtones of the period are heavily exaggerated simply in order to sell more product.

The response to an alternative outlook on the season resulted in the laughable ‘war on Christmas’. I don’t understand how someone can be ‘offended’ per se. I do get angry however when people tell that we live in an open society. Yet although the celebration of Christmas only applies to a percentage of the population (albeit large), the news, films and media in general treat it as the status quo. A similar example is Easter, which was mentioned in a previous post. If we lived in an open and secular society (and I know we don’t), the news would read; “Today Christians around the world celebrate the festival of Christmas, where they remember and through plays re-enact, the birth of their ‘savior’ Jesus Christ of Nazareth.’ The shops wouldn’t close, we wouldn’t get a day off and we certainly wouldn’t see it plastered everywhere we look. I know we are a predominantly Christian society, but as the statistics prove, and I mentioned before, many people simply don’t give a damn about Jesus or anything to do with him. It’s mostly about upbringing and consumerism. Which leads neatly into…

Consumerism

Human excess and waste is at its absolute peak this time of year. The effects of these excesses on the environment are many, from increased electricity usage to power those pointless Christmas lights, to the increase in waste from gifts that are not used, decorations and packaging materials that are thrown away, and harmful and wasteful manufacturing processes to produce the stuff in the first place.
Just about every commercial we see and every holiday themed image shows the equating of happiness with spending and of guilt if we haven’t bought the most expensive gift we can afford. We spend any excess cash we might have accumulated, or we go heavily into debt in order to buy what we really don’t need. It’s known as ‘the shopping season’ for the almost delirious spasms of millions of people to buy, buy, buy, until we all slump, exhausted, on Christmas day. All of this for one day. One day that would be like any other if it wasn’t for the constant bombardment of ‘the Christmas Spirit’ everywhere we go and the religious overtones which at best are only symbolic. That we don’t realize the absurdity of the tradition is testament to the ever more persuasive powers of the advertising and PR industry. All for a buck, as they say.

So I say again. Why do we celebrate this?

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Christmas

  1. Neolithica says:

    Hi Black Box,

    I think that the Christmas season sucks to begin with -It’s cold, it’s dark, the animals are dropping dead around us, the trees have gone moribund, it’s no fun to be outside and winter is way more expensive than summer so if you haven’t squirreled away enough seeds to get you through the bitter season, now is the time when you realise how much trouble you are in and that This Might Be Your Last Winter.

    Saturnalia is an antidote to this. Eating up the last of the raisins is a comfort before you begin the long fasts. So is getting together with family. You may hate the buggers, but when there’s been a death there is this instinct to get close, rub noses and touch to find out how many of your blood line are left. It’s not exactly a pleasure if one or more of the family members habitually indulges in hysterical dependent behavior but it still gives me something to ground me when I can affirm who survived and who didn’t.

    As for the consumerism. Feh. Not for nothing do my kids get the long winter underwear and socks that they need for Christmas. If they don’t feel happy gratitude this year, that’s okay – they will the year after the one where I can’t afford them.

    The biggest dissapointment is if you think of Christmas as a happy season rather than a possible brief light in a bleak season.

    It’s like getting a therapist when you are depressed, not a magical wand that will “cure” and rebalance your brain chemicals.

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  2. Ray says:

    You said: “The religious overtones of the period are heavily exaggerated simply in order to sell more product”

    Sure are, coz that’s how business works, it does it’s research and then it markets based upon it’s results.

    I can see nothing wrong in that. I do see wrong (if you could call it that I suppose) when we gullible one’s go out and act upon that marketing. We do not have to.

    Aside from that by the way, business and what business does delivers the money that feeds our families so how can business, per se, be wrong and, how else but by exchange (i.e. business) can we obtain other than what we already have?

    Ray

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  3. Shem says:

    By that token, business has free reign to do whatever it takes to sell product. People will act on it because we are trained consumers, trained by these industries. The industry asks us to give in to every one of our desires and instincts, to become weaker, and people comply. It goes much further than the passive ‘research’ approach that you speak of. Study the development of PR and advertising because of Edward Bernays in the middle of the last century. See how the modern economy depends on compliant consumers, how utilizing complex psychological techniques to change people fundamentally, making them more malleable and vulnerable to advertising techniques. They don’t hire psychologists simply to ask them what they think of one font over the other.

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  4. Ray Mutch says:

    Why by ‘that token’ can business have (or should we give it) free reign to do what it likes? I don’t see the logic that leads to that statement. You also say that we are ‘lead’ to the product trough, and before that, conditioned to drink from it. If we are conditioned

    There are some who feel that business must be objective, giving no thought to the human cost of its activity; that it rests with government to look after, protect, the social aspects. There are others (like me) who believe that business practice, and the forces of so-called progress, ignores at its peril the entire range of human existance, human consequence and human implication, and not just for the few but for everyone. If it does not then it hastens its own demise. Some fall sooner, some take a little longer but fall they do.

    I agree that business today (not all but perhaps most) take the former view and disregard to a large extent or at least try to circumnavigate by various means (advertising, image-making, and down-right lieing to name but a few) those annoying human implications.

    I’ll give you a personal example. For years I worked in the telecommunications industry and for years I saw company after company put all their energies into the process of selling (which of course is important for survival) and yet when it came to support from them for thier product, for what had been bought and paid for, just about every one of them offered the worst possible service. This cutting off from one another of the process of selling and of support, thinking them to be two entirely different things, is in my opinion wholly artificial. They are not spearate processes; Not in a ‘good business they are not. They are two stages of the same thing; One leading into the other and the other back to the former.

    A good business (dare I say a human business, a business that ‘gives a damn’) builds relationship with its customers and through that relationship both benefit. Business like this become subsumed into the normal functioning of society and does not then function as a separate thing that must exert its influence from the outside or worse still exert its rule.

    I went off on a bit of a tangent there, sorry. I find it far easier to talk about these things than write about them. It’s still related to what we are saying though. And before you say it I know I am naive. I am an idealist. I always have been and I always will be. I know very well about conditioning and I know very well that we often act upon impulses embedded deep into us and hidden from us. I could take Freud’s pessimistic view and accept that we cannot ever free ourselves from these influences nor impulses. If I did (which I cannot because I know otherwise) then I would have to likewise accept that seeking to uncover and understand these influences would be futile and pointless for in the end the trap is already complete.

    Blimey I hope all this makes sense!

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  5. Ray Mutch says:

    You see, I’m in the business now (it apears at least on the surface) of raising funds from past graduates of my University. But that isn’t ACTUALLY what I am doing at all.

    What I am ACTUALLY doing is building a community. There is in my view absolutely nothing wrong with the individuals being asked to contribute to that community. How else can that community remain in existance?

    I consciously push to back of my mind the commonly accepted notion that I am simply here to ask for money.

    As I see it IF this community works as a community should. If this becomes a group of true friends who car about each other, who give a damn about future generations and not simply of their own short term wants and needs, then the money WILL come, and it will come of its own accord and it will be given gladly!

    That for me is the difference between being conditioned and being awake. One can say anything one likes in regard to how conditioned or programmed we are but that does not obviate the possibility of someone acting entirely counter to that coerced movement; even if they seemingly appear to be following the same path as everyone else it does not mean that they feel the way everyone else feels, nor that they are acting with the same motive.

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  6. Shem says:

    I agree with most of what you’re saying regarding altruism, customer support or general customer relationships, but it doesn’t have much to do with what my point about advertising was about.

    There is still is a general consensus of opinion in the advertising companies that a consumer is not providing high return if only purchasing the product once. A consumer must purchase again and again, buying the best, the latest, the most fashionable. And without doubt, the point of advertising is to coerce you into buying something you don’t need, because if you wanted it bad enough, you’d go looking for it. What is the most effective way of making someone buy something? By proving a vested emotional interest in that material item. I’m not going to go into the myriad psychological practices implemented in that coercion, but one is thing is for sure, and it’s this. The general movement of the modern marketing machine, this unstoppable juggernaught which justifies itself under the guise of ‘performing a public service’, ‘helping the economy’ etc is to make people become totally addicted to material items. And if you don’t think that they are winning, take a look at the amount of crap in the average house. How much of that stuff do they actually need?
    A total pre-occupation in consumption and self-gratification, an entire society geared towards it, and you cannot argue that is at epidemic levels, creates self-absorbed shallow people, and the people in society are swallowing this bait without hesitation. Look at all the advertising: ‘your life’, ‘your choice’, ‘it’s what you want’. Watch commercials, look at the billboards, pull them to pieces in your mind. Peddlers of consumer goods are concerned solely in changing who you are into someone who will happily manifest their passions and desires, dreams and agonies into material items. Their intention is to change the human psyche in order to sell more product. If you ever doubt this, read the marketing journals and periodicals, course and degree materials, read the psychological studies performed and conclusions reached.

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  7. Ray Mutch says:

    There you go again! You are absolutely right but (he said egotistically) so am I.

    We are sheep being led by sheep, and here’s the irony, there is no shepherd leading the sheep-leading sheep leaders.

    So in short, we are all sleep walking down the spiral staircase to hell. . . Now what?

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  8. Ray Mutch says:

    There you go again! You are absolutely right but (he said egotistically) so am I.

    We are sheep being led by sheep, and here’s the irony, there is no shepherd leading the sheep-leading sheep leaders.

    So in short, we are all sleep walking down the spiral staircase to hell. . . Now what?

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  9. Ray Mutch says:

    …And after a rather bad night’s sleep, Scrooge woke up!

    And oh what a world he did see!

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  10. Ray Mutch says:

    …And after a rather bad night’s sleep, Scrooge woke up!

    And oh what a world he did see!

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