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14th December 2015

Ode to Christmas 2015

Alex Pigott on why we should all embrace the Christmas spirit and silence the naysayers

These days, any mention of Christmas spirit or joy is received with apathy or even active resentment.

It is as if it has become ‘cool’ to hate on Christmas; even among students, arguably the people with most reason to cherish this time of year. Yet, it is a time when deadlines can be forgotten and time and money are no longer valid excuses not to socialise. So why are people so committed to hating it?

It is understandable for a strapped-for-cash family to experience stress in December when spending seems to be the ultimate motive for much of the Christmas decoration we see on a walk through town. It is understandable that people forced to spend Christmas alone don’t have such a positive attitude towards the season as I do. These are regrettable situations that we should aim to eradicate, but these are not the people who are heard providing seasonal sneers towards the festivities.

I hear students with families and friends at home complaining about the way Christmas has become a victim to our consumerist culture whilst all the while making sure to pop out to pick up a John Lewis telescope. I hear them complaining about the way the meaning of Christmas has been completely forgotten as if Christianity has always held a place in their hearts.

Sure, it is true that consumerism certainly dominates much of the modern Christmas spirit, but only if we let it. And yes, it is the case that the birth of Jesus Christ is not such a big deal to many people at this time of year. But is that really a problem? Almost all the reasons for this Christmas cynicism seem to me like thoughtless attempts at party-pooping for the sake of being part of the counterculture.

It certainly is frustrating how each year the adverts begin earlier, their budgets grow bigger, and the excitement surrounding said advert gets closer to exceeding the excitement for Christmas itself. It is a sad sign of the gradual domination of capitalism over Christmas. But just because it dominates our TVs, it doesn’t have to dominate our thoughts.

Turn it off. If you don’t see the advert, it can’t run through your psyche all day, using sentimentality to guilt trip you into spending money. If you do see it, don’t talk about it. Even by complaining about the adverts, you are giving them what they want, providing fuel for the flames of Christmas capitalism.

Sure, presents are involved, but only as a tiny part of the bigger picture. You may spend up to an hour unwrapping presents on Christmas Day, but the day hardly revolves around this. If we are really honest with ourselves, we could all do with a few presents anyway. But it’s not even gifts that are the problem, really. Giving a present is not just pledging allegiance to the dark side, and realistically we are not selling our souls to consumer capitalism. It’s simply a sign of appreciation.

We just don’t have to let the incessant advertising hijack our Christmas spirit. But as students, we shouldn’t complain. You haven’t stopped complaining about your lack of money since September, so for one hour, of one day of the year, let your consumerist side take over.

If you truly hate how much of Christmas is being wrongly appropriated, change it up.

Don’t make your Christmas about the presents if that’s not what you’re into. Instead, make it about the people. It is an opportunity to go out without any looming pressures. It is what you’ve been waiting for since your first deadline. It is the only few weeks of the year where everyone is bound to be back home.

Friends you haven’t seen for a year or two are all back home. Though I’m sure there are reasons why you haven’t seen them for so long, for one night of the year, indulge them! You might even enjoy yourself. The same thing goes for your family. Of course, there are some members whom you would rather not spend all day with, but they are related to you. If there’s something wrong with them, it’s probably wrong with you, too. So put up with it. Have another drink.

That leads to alcohol, the fuel to the flame of Christmas’s past, present and future. It seems as if this has become as integral to the season as Santa and snow, and with understandable reason. You might not have anything to say to the friend you haven’t seen for years, or you may struggle to cope with the politics of your relatives, but with another drink, you may just about make it through.

I’ve heard some argue that it’s times like these, where we are expected to have fun, that are some of the hardest to enjoy. But expectations stem from the wonderful experiences that we have all had before, so we should make sure it happens again! We are expected to have a good time because most of us do. So that’s no reason to be mopey this year.

There are many legitimate reasons to be grouchy as Christmas comes around, but are yours really that legitimate? Would you really be happier without Christmas, or are you just jumping on the bandwagon?

Though it might not still have the same meaning as it originally did, it doesn’t deserve all this hate. There’s so much to love about the Wonderful Season, so cut out all of the bad stuff, and replace it with what’s great this Christmas.

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