Oh Come All Ye Consumers | Seasonal Semantics
Christmas at my house is quiet.
There is a little creek from the leaves rustling outside our windows. The food is usually ready by five and the four of us sit together to eat. We pray, pack our plates and wait for my dad to begin his storytelling. He tells us African folklore; stories of family, responsibility, kingship and what it means to love one another. Then, at about seven, we disburse into our own corners of joy. Some watching carols, others reading under the stars (just a chair, in a small backyard, in a quaint planet called Earth) and then there’s me… flipping from activity to activity, filling the moments with… well, moments.
Christmas at my house is not surrounded by ornaments or a large tree – not since we got a dog, anyway. Not a bauble in sight. No tinsel or holly. No frankincense or myrrh… though there are a few gold pieces on fingers and necks. As for wise men? I’m sure most of us fit the description of (wo)man on a journey to find the one thing that brings peace in this world (and aren’t we all on that journey?).
Christmas, depending on how you like your end of year/beginning of your celebrations, is different across the globe; home to home, heart to heart. This does not change the message of Christmas or how we spend it at my house. There is still the present puzzle leading up to the day – what to get, whom to give it to when to buy etc. Still the meal on the table, still the message of the good news of Jesus Christ’s birth. Still the spreading of hope and peace.
But is that what we are sold at Christmas? Is that what your weekly Myer or Coles catalogues and prime time ads say? Buy this and you will feel heavenly. Cook this and you will be the glory of the family. The message of Christmas is shared to us through products, food, and experiences. Is Christmas a profit-driven sale period? You bet your stockings it is. Are we being manipulated into forgetting the real message of the birth of the Christian faith as we know it? Yes and no. Let’s explore a little deeper…
What consumers love about Christmas is the same thing they hate about it – over-indulgence. Some see spending extravagant amounts of money on a gift (for almost anyone you’ve ever had a heart to heart with, and let’s not forget the obligatory office secret Santa); like a frosted cake freshly baked – luxurious but not essential. What we love about Christmas is the reminder that we are all the same.
We all have families, some more present than others (was that a gift joke? Okay I’m wrapping this up …), some festive, some reflective, some anxious, some giddy. The message of Christmas is simple – home is where the heart is. The problem with Christmas is not the religious meaning, it’s our humanistic urges. The world is driven by three main things – giving, receiving and promoting.
What I mean by giving is; as humans we run on time, energy and resources. We receive love, care, attention through time, energy, resources. We are also proud beings, wanting to advance in grit, will, and candor. Democratic by nature, we love to promote ourselves and each other. This is a savvy business tycoon’s dream. Tapping into our indulgences for the things we save on wish-lists – the items and places we wouldn’t normally dip our wallets into. As a species of hunters and nurturers, the coming together for the common cause will never be obsolete; nor will the power of family.
The need for Christmas is important to billions of people; as a well-grounded tradition into the faith of humanity. Let’s not get it twisted, there will always be a new gimmick, seasonal pull to rally the needy and speedy troops. Why not have it for the birth of a baby? If you think Christmas is a marketing ploy, don’t get me started on NYE and all its shenanigans – a profit-driven ideology geared to exacerbate FOMO, and making good use of those jingle balls… But getting back to the original point; Christmas at my house is quiet, and that’s just the way we like it, with its authentic meaning binding us together like a sheet of stars across the southern sky…
*Merry Christmas! May we spend together, dine together, wine together and above all else, come to all ye faithful.