It was a tough decision for me to write this article because I can already feel all of the negative backlash it’s going to receive, and it will give my friends and potentially now some of my readers another reason to say, “Alanna Ruins Everything.” But, it has to be said.
Upon stumbling across an article posted on the Guardian called “This Christmas It’s Time We Put An End To The Cult Of Christmas Once And For All,” I realized I needed to offer my own take on this holiday season. So please, bear with me — it’s not all bad.
We all recognize the material, unhealthy, or just plain silly aspects of Christmas. Insane amounts of money spent on gifts, endless indulgence in unhealthy foods, Santa Claus — while you may argue it’s just once a year, it’s fun for the kids, and it’s great to spend time with family — all valid points of view — not one of these things has anything to do with what Christmas is actually supposed to be about. The real meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but even that is a bit irrelevant, as Jesus was believed to be born sometime around *****. So what is Christmas really all about? Despite what Hallmark would like you to believe, all Christmas really is, is a cruel, elitist institution that needs to end. Here’s why.
The reality of the celebration of Christmas is that it is reserved for the most privileged in our society, yet we don’t often acknowledge this. We are collectively blind to the fact that the vast majority of humans on the planet are unable to celebrate Christmas in the way the media tells us we should. This creates feelings of failure, inadequacy, and a sense of loss.
Americans will spend around 465 BILLION dollars this year on gifts and all of the things that go along with Christmas. Let me give you a little bit of perspective here: the U.N. estimates that for just 30 billion dollars per year, we could end world hunger. If Americans alone were to donate their money instead of splurging on gifts for their (often already spoiled) kids for one year, world hunger would cease to be an issue for 15 years. Now, let that sink in. We have the means to fix the problems in our world, but unfortunately, our capitalistic society does not favour these means.
Another problem within American and European countries is that much of the money being spent is not available in the first place. Because of the media, families feel tremendous pressure to create the perfect Christmas for their families. There is never more pressure to spend than at Christmas. Gifts, decorations, food, events, travel — none of these are considered luxuries during Christmas, it’s just assumed they’ll be present. Hundreds of thousands of people fall into debt during this time of the year because society has cleverly and deliberately indoctrinated us into believing that we need to fit this version of Christmas.
I remember my mother struggling every year at Christmastime and even reaching out to a charity so that we could have more gifts like all of our friends. I also remember going to school and hearing about all of the much more expensive presents my friends had gotten and wondering if I had been bad, and that’s why Santa wasn’t able to give me what I wanted. Now just think of the millions of children in Africa, Asia, and South America who likely wonder why Santa doesn’t come to them at all?
But, It’s a Time to Get Together With Family
Okay, but why the pressure? Almost parallel with the rampant consumerism is the forced narrative that you need to spend time with your family. This puts tremendous pressure on people who don’t have much family, are unable to visit the family they do have, or simply do not have a relationship with their family. Many don’t have the financial means to travel to visit family. Is there a depiction of Christmas out there that doesn’t involve a happy nuclear family sitting around a dinner table? Think about every single Christmas movie you have ever seen, just for a second.
Many people are estranged from their family, or have suffered trauma at the hands of family members. Just imagine what the pressure to “be with family” at Christmas does to their mental health. What about people who are homeless or are far from home? People face tremendous guilt and pressure to be social this time of year, whether that’s something they want or not. In this sense it’s very fake. Shouldn’t we be with our family when it aligns and feels right and authentic? Why do we need a holiday to tell us when to do something we already desire?
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Unfortunately this cruel paradigm that our society has created only benefits the wealthiest people and puts even more pressure on conformity. We have evolved and advanced in many ways, but capitalistic Christmas is still thriving. Isn’t it time we gave up the charade? What if we took even a portion of what we spend on Christmas annually and donated it to a legitimate charity? What if we spent time with our family members when we felt truly inspired and excited to see them? The idea that Christmas is about kindness is also fraudulent because, again, it only serves to beat down the less advantaged and cater to the wealthy.
If we really want to embody the “spirit of Christmas,” we should begin by treating December 25th like any other day. A day where those who have family to spend it with can do so, and no one is forced to do anything, like buying gifts, just because it is expected and encouraged. It’s time to take a look at our actions and be inclusive and honest about the very real injustices and wealth gap in our society. It’s time to BE THE CHANGE, even if that means saying “Bah Humbug.”
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