Letter to Christmas Commercialism

Xmas moneyDear CC

It all starts in September, when friends start saying that they have done all their Christmas shopping already…

And then I start spotting mince pies on supermarket shelves…

Next come the TV adverts… between every programme I am haplessly watching – surely and suddenly I am bombarded with images of happy families sitting at tables heaped with festive fare. There are always crowds of them, but even so, how could they possibly eat their way through all that food?

Also in TV land there are the glamorous women sparkly clad in gorgeous gowns and the handsome men in dinner jackets, unwrapping perfect presents or clinking champagne filled glasses in castles, or suburban semis – with snow on the lawn and privet hedges…

In between the adverts it feels like there is an endless Christmas cavalcade of American made for TV Festive movies, with added smoltz and a cachè of mistletoe kisses; all back lit by snow, instead of sunsets, for the happy protagonists to walk off into…

In the outside world, the shops are playing Christmas hits as I wander around the aisles, skirting round the huge Christmas Tree by the door and trying to ignore the vast tins full of biscuits and chocolates calling to me softly from the shelves. Then there are all the gift sets – turning ordinary every day items into the boxed and cellophaned extraordinary…

It isn’t even December yet and still celebrities start flicking on switches that illuminate town centres with wattage and bright bulbs, flashing loud lights at me to heighten my Christmas consciousness.

I visit my favourite restaurants and suddenly turkey is on the menu and the prices have doubled. I try buy to a drink at the bar and Christmas people heave and jostle in order to fill themselves with Christmas spirit/s and get in my way.

It’s CHRISTMAS!!! Except that it isn’t… Not yet any way… Around about early November I always have a comic concern that my Christmas spirit will be worn out by mid December. This means that in my house, the tree will not go up and decorations cannot be hung until the week before the 25th, and then must be religiously un-decked on Twelfth Night.

And as much as I love shopping, love presents (giving and receiving), love parties and feasting and all that a merry mercantile Christmas entails, I’m still not sure how I feel about the constant and cunning commercialisation of it all…

For Christmas is actually a religious declaration that for Christians, our saviour – God’s own son, was born of man, in a stable. A stable with a bright star above, illuminating the camel tracks of the wise men, travelling towards Bethlehem, there to venerate the Messiah.

The Messiah, then a baby, who became the man who preached and created miracles and is known to us through the New Testament and contemporary historical accounts. Jesus who was born a Jew and so from Judaism a separatist group created Christianity, an entity which changed and ended the lives of millions upon millions of people.

Christmas was and is the celebration of Christ’s Mass, replacing a previously pagan rite of passage – a celebration to mark the end of the cold dark nights of winter, and the slow, Spring lengthening of day light hours, with its’ re-awakening of nature’s bounty.  This ritual, during those ancient druid times, was a feast to forget the frozen famine.

The Christmas we westerners experience now, in our corners of the round globe, with its’ trees, presents and mulled wine ambience, started forming its self in relatively recent history – being just a few hundred years old. From Christ Mass it morphed in to ‘Merry Christmas’ after two millennia of worship and reverence. In fact, for so many, Easter was and is, a more important celebration – the resurrection of Christ, rather than his birth.

So now I am experiencing a Commercial Christmas – an experience which I simultaneously relish and reject. And when I think of candle lit Christmases, with a chorus of carolling, accompanied by candy and cake, somehow cold, hard cash seems at odds with the sentiment of peace, love and good will to all men (women and children).

At the root of it all is a deep down, inherent discomfort of buying and so it follows, with selling. As a business woman I choose to sell to live and I have had to learn that selling services is a good thing. I couldn’t pay the bills with my coaching and professional support if I gave it away for free. And because I am a creature of constant contradiction, at times I find this joyful and times I find it difficult.

So it feels like Christmas has the same inherent contradiction – Christian versus commercial… So I admit that to myself and by doing so turn it in to a simple fact, and a choice, rather than a concern.

And you know this is the world that I both live in and have had a hand in creating… For years I have shopped and wrapped and watched and feasted and carolled. And still now I do all these things… to a degree; yet recently I find that I have scaled down and pared back… I don’t put pressure on myself to conform. Rather I confirm and affirm what Christmas is to me and for me.

It is a time to connect – I love how Christmas brings families together from streets or continents apart and means that I catch up with friends near and far, by touch or by Christmas card.

I like feasting and socialising and believe in marking time and occasion, so Christmas is a perfect concentration of love, laughter and celebration for me.

I have had a life time of being a Material Girl, who has loved her stuff and populated her life with things. I love giving and receiving too and find – slowly and naturally, that I am now more about giving my time and energy, rather than a thing – beautifully wrapped and soon forgotten about…

And after all the Merry Christmas madness, for me – it is time to slow down, to rest and relax for a while. Time to contemplate a year in my life and all it has bought me and what I have learnt from it. And then it will be time to welcome in a New Year – to contemplate, to plan, to prioritise and then dream through the pregnant possibilities of the months to come.

So, after all the shopping and socialising, it will be time to be slow, to both step into and sleep through my Christmas; this being partly Christian, partly commercial and all me.

And so, Commercial Christmas, farewell…

Yours (maybe)

       Sandra

PS: This year, as a Christmas Gift, I’m sharing the gifts of my writing and learning to entertain you, make you think and to deepen the Christmas experience in my capsule ebook. A Peachey Christmas is a collection of (previously published) blogs along with new material, gathered into one, gorgeous Christmas capsule…  All you need to do to claim your free electronic copy is to fill out a few details here and then it will wing its’ way back to you.

PPS: And here is the perfect Christmas irony – I am now being unashamedly Commercial – as Christmas comes round and you are thinking of a gorgeous gift, a collection of the ‘Peachey Letters’ from this blog have been gathered together, along with new material, in book form.  It makes the perfect present, for you, family and friends… You can buy Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life on my website here or from Amazon (in Paperback and Kindle), and from all good book websites around the world…

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