The Grumpy Old Man

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A "Modern" Christmas

Have we lost sight of what Christmas is all about?

I may be a bit of a grumpy old man but I am no Scrooge and love Christmas, particularly if I am lucky enough to have the family around me. Unfortunately as they have grown up and left the nest many of them are now scattered around the world with their own families making it difficult to see them. Telephone calls on Christmas day have become the norm rather than the exception.

Another thing that saddens me about this festive season is that it seems to have been hijacked by the marketing man and become hugely commercialised. On that topic I have heard it said that Father Christmas, as we now know him, with a white beard and dressed in a red cloak, was an invention of the marketing department of a huge American cola manufacturing company! Gordon Bennett, whatever next!

I think many people have lost sight of the fact that Christmas is a religious festival. There are indications that it was originally a pagan festival celebrated to brighten up the middle of winter. However, Christmas as we have come to know it is a festival to mark the birth of Jesus, an event that happened some two thousand years ago marking the beginnings of Christianity.

So, how do we celebrate this event nowadays? We have office parties at which, if one believes folklore, various pairings take place in the "office broom cupboard". But what I find distasteful about these parties (and having now retired I have been to two or three) is that there is a huge amount of jollity, joviality, hail fellow well met, and general joie de vivre usually fuelled by alcohol. Yet, after the so-called holiday season is over these same people who were your best friend at the party are just as likely to stab you in the back if it means their own advancement.

On the home front, super rich banquets are consumed accompanied by vast quantities of today's legal drug; alcohol.

Modern society is not just obese from overindulgence in food but also awash with commercial consumerism. We indulge our offspring with grotesque quantities of gifts, many of which they don't want, many of which they don't like, most of which they don't need and many of which they don't play with for longer than two or three days (if we are lucky) and many of which are made from cheap plastic tat that invariably breaks after a day or two. It is this aspect of Christmas that I find most abhorrent and distasteful. It smacks of trying to buy love. An article in a recent issue of that esteemed organ of the British middle classes, the Daily Telegraph, comments on this very subject. The article had some interesting observations and statistics such as children only seem to play with about twelve toys a day, and the majority of toys are invariably ignored after one or two plays in favour of the old favourites and classic board games. (Perhaps these are "classic" for a reason). It also found there is much peer group pressure among teenagers for the latest technical gizmo. The wry comment made that these "unused" toys inevitably means the offspring's bedroom is a nightmare to keep tidy should be the parent's least concern! In Grumpy's view modern day parents should be far more concerned about asking "what type of adult are we producing on the back of our over indulged child?" With expectations growing ever higher, even minor disappointments in life will become major crises.

It really does strike Grumpy as being odd that we use a festival celebrating an event marking the beginnings of a religion purporting to eschew the virtues of "love thy neighbour", "do unto others as you would be done to yourself" and "moderation in all things" by indulging in what can only be described as a bacchanalian orgy of gastronomic, alcoholic, hedonistic and frivolous expenditure excesses just because it is Christmas!!!