Aug 11 2008

So this is Christmas. Already?

Category: GeneralLee @ 12:03

Not that Harrods is still the benchmark of the London shopping world it used to be, having been largely reduced to plying names instead of quality, but I was shocked to discover that, last weekend, they opened their Christmas hall. In August. Christmas. In August. What the hell? Have they lost it completely?

Christmas for me is a complicated thing. As an absolute atheist it’s religious significance is 0. As a realist and, ok, cynic, the idea of ‘Christmas spirit’ – that you should be nice to people just because it’s a certain time of year – is not only ridiculous but darn right offensive. To begin with, if I am a bastard then I shall be a bastard whenever the mood strikes me, as such things do not take a holiday in December like a City worker. Additionally, the idea of being good to one another because a religion – which has caused more pain, persecution and suffering than pretty much any other single thing in history – says to is hypocritical in extremis. Worse yet, if one is in fact good and charitable and decent all the time, are such rare virtues diluted at year’s end because everyone else is briefly doing it too?

But I go along with it, nonetheless. Truth is, if people are nice to each other for a while, for whatever reason, then it’s a marked improvement on the traditional antagonistic attitudes prevalent on the streets of London. And, well, people may have corrupted the message to the point of making it dangerously unintelligible today, but the original idea of Christianity was, at it’s core, to be good to one another.

But… the consumerism. It’s not about the message any more. It’s not even about the random displays of good nature (which apparently have to be saved up for a whole year and squirted out all at once, all together. Do people not have enough to ration throughout the year?). It’s about the money.

Ho ho ho indeed: Christmas has been prostituted and seems to be loving it. I can just about go along with the more etherial concepts behind it, but some families virtually bankrupt themselves buying presents for everyone they’ve ever met. True, in such cases these families are clearly Darwinian dead ends and therefore potentially a living anthropological experiment and, as such, worthy of observation (though still damn stupid). Many will actually place themselves into heavy debt, abusing their credit cards and nervously tending lean bank accounts for a good few months after the event whilst coping with the aftermath.

So why?

Well, in a society where money rules all the answer is simple: it’s a business. Good naturedness, charitable feelings, happiness – no matter how falsely induced – and relentless pressure to buy from both companies and people expecting presents work wonders on loosening the purse strings.

So, like with Christmas as a whole, I am somewhat conflicted: might Harrods actually have the right idea after all? If some people are going to spend all this money regardless, perhaps being able to spread the costs over a good 5 months is no bad thing. Just so long as they don’t then complain that they lack the money for silly things like medicine, food or a holiday.

Christmas is being rammed down our throats from an unacceptably early time in the year. If it is indeed being prostituted, it seems those perverts pimping it like to make it younger and younger each year. August is the time for beach holidays, sun and picnics – if not here in London, then somewhere else. And anyway, the expensive part of Christmas is the presents, which you can buy at any time. Anyone who goes to Harrods and buys a single Christmas cracker for £1000 is, frankly, demented (not even kidding: check out http://styledlife.excite.co.uk/news/1087/Our-pick-of-the-best-luxury-Christmas-crackers). Even if you could easily afford it, it’s Christmas… give the money to charity. As for all the rest, it’s just cards and wrapping paper.

As for me, the reason I accept Christmas despite all my reservations about it is simple: my girlfriend loves it, for reasons of her own, and anything which makes her that happy is, for me, clearly worth celebrating.

I just wish I didn’t have to start doing it so soon.

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