Tis the season to buy extravagantly, eat lavishly and waste excessively. The Western ideologies of buy more, spend more have shoved Christmas’s religious cause in the attic along with the Easter egg decorations. A handful of people will traipse to the nearby church for that one day a year and for the rest of the 365 days will continue to yell at thy neighbour and pollute gods green earth.
As a cultural celebration, the lead up to the 25th of December has become an ungodly flaunting of economic wealth, in all it’s blinking lights above your porch, brazenly exploiting eastern countries (most of whom don’t celebrate Christmas) for the cheap manufacture of our Christmas tat.
Our indulgence in spending through the season is a retail corporation’s wet dream. Driven by glamorous and festive adverts across screens, gaudy decorations and Christmas payment plans, December is unparalleled in its ability to shepherd us through shop doors and online. Hoards of people go out in their droves despite weather warnings and traffic beyond belief. A time when budgeting doesn’t exist and people willingly and joyously spend on credit.
Festive myths help uphold the tradition and enthral children’s penchant for new shiny things. Where else would society glorify a big white guy who makes your kids sit on his lap reciting their hearts desires, whom you allow to break into your home at night and go into their bedrooms? A man who only works one day a year, and for the rest of the time enlists a captive workforce under 5 foot to produce tonnes of disposable gifts.
The magic of the white Christmas lives on in Christmasy songs and tales, but not on our streets. In the last century, been 4 documented cases of settled snow on Christmas Day, and today’s rising temperatures make it pretty unlikely, but our figurines, cards and knitted jumpers live on in hope.
High streets are tressed up high with blinking fluorescent lights and lavish displays, locals gather to watch a bunch of bulbs go from off to on. While we in our homes are chastised for the rest of the year for wasting energy, towns up and down the country willingly squander council budgets to guide you through the high street while the shops are shut at 5 pm.
We revel in the splendour of decorating, adorning every visible ledge and corner in leaves and twigs twisted into a festive shape. Showering our homes in vacuum moulded glittering plastic balls and figurines in case our friends and family were in any confusion of the time of year.
Pines are cut down or manufactured from plastic to fit into our front rooms in celebration of the nature we’ve removed from its habitat. Dressed up in a barrage of twinkling lights and PVC tasselled trains in this years colour schemes. Out with last years blue and silver plastic, this year it’s red and gold. The ultimate signal of Christmas, it’s ousted along with the decorations as soon as the Boxing Day sales are over, the plastic caricature goes up in the attic, and the real tree is ousted to rot on curbsides or in landfill.
Underneath the bedecked fern, we arrange gifts in their neatly wrapped and festive papers, concealing the panic-bought and over-budgeted bounty. Plastic coated and rarely recycled, the wrapping paper will float across landfill in the name of tradition.
Unwrapped and revealed, plastered smiles and thanks through gritted teeth, we buy gifts for people because we have to, not because we want to. Unwanted gifts will end up back in that attic until when it comes to moving they’ll eventually pull out the ‘Bits and Bobs’ shabby chic box you panic bought because it was at the till. This influx of cheap and unnecessary items encourage the fossil fuel economy to continue to manufacture injection-moulded goods that end up as flotsam and jetsam that cover waste sites, streets and oceans globally.
The waste produced at Christmas time is unparalleled by any other celebration. From every piece plastic packaging for produce and products to the food thrown away that was bought in the name of a feast, regardless of stomach capacities. Recycling goes out the window as the necessity to get things done quickly takes over, and the select few decide to use single-use plates and cutlery in the name of convenience, but that’s an argument for another day.
Christmas is truly a joyous time, I’m all for a season of indulgence of food and drink with the nearest and dearest. But blindly following tradition for traditions sake is a damaging our way of life. Many of us, myself included, continue to pursue the same festive rituals because it’s cosy and safe and no one wants to be a Grinch. But critical thinking of why and how we do things is crucial to developing as people and as a society.
Enjoy the brandy.