delve a little deeper....
It's really difficult to talk/write about hating Christmas without coming across as a miserable old bag or sounding smug and virtuous in my refusal to get involved with the whole ridiculousness of it. I'm going to try and explain myself though!
Back in September someone on my personal Facebook posted 'Only 13 weeks til Christmas!' and since then the fuss has been increasing in momentum weekly.
Christmassy food stuff starts to go on sale at Easter until you're at the point where you can't seem to buy 'normal' food anymore, just giant sized family packs with holly berries emblazoned on the packaging. It's sometimes tricky enough shopping for one (I get bitter at 2 for I offers that I can either not eat in time nor carry because I don't have a car as it is!) but when everything because 'family' sized and I can't find any Marmite because all the shelves are filled with sodding mincemeat and cranberry sauce I get pissed off.
And why do people need to buy so much? I understand if you're entertaining for your entire extended family you're going to need to buy a lot, but surely that should be cancelled out by those who are going away for the festive season? In the past week I have had the misfortune to need to pop into a supermarket several times and the amount of stuff people seem to be buying is staggering! Who eats it all?!
Actually, no one eats it all... According to a national survey commissioned in 2011 by food waste disposer maker InSinkErator Brits spend £3.3 billion on food over Christmas and on Christmas day the average family will spend £133.70 on Christmas lunch. Not only that, More than half (56 per cent) of 3,000 householders polled admit they will throw away between 20 to 30 per cent of that extra Christmas food as waste this year, that's an extra 50 million bags of rubbish, or £600m of food. That's wasted. Thrown away.
It's so greedy and wasteful it actually upsets me, especially when you read about how some people have nothing and I'm not just talking about those in third world countries. How many of us read The Metro (free paper) on 5th December and were horrified to read about the increase of pressure on the UK's food banks?
The number of people turning to food banks is expected to double to more than 220,000 this year due to the economic climate and cuts in benefits. Why do 220,000 people in this country need charity to eat, whilst others can afford to spend 400 quid on an iPad for their 6 year old??
Why are people having to walk ten miles each way in the rain to collect free food while teh rest of us are moaning about how exhausted they are from traipsing round the shops? It's all so sad. Full Metro article here.
The inequality of wealth is a huge worldwide issue and I don't intend to get into it now or suggest how to change it, but Christmas seems to make people forget any injustice in the world and their own needs and desires for a 'perfect' Christmas take over.
I hate the whole present buying thing. Not because I am mean and stingy but because trailing around the shops desperate to find something to buy someone something they really want is miserable. I hate the concept that because it's Christmas I have to buy a present.
I prefer to do things with my friends throughout the year that we will enjoy together. I prefer my money to go on having great dinners together, going to gigs, jaunting off on mini breaks or just catching up for a pint (of wine). Those things are far more meaningful and important to me and create happy memories which are priceless. Having lunch with my brother without his wife and kid (as much as I like them ) like the old days is more special to me than him having to battle round the shops working out what the hell to get me just because it happens to be coming up to December 25th.
Gifts should be given because you care, because you've seen something that will make someone smile are far more fun than a pair of socks because you're desperate and it's 5.30pm on Christmas Eve. Luckily I have trained most of my close friends into this way of thinking and as a family my parent's were never extravagant with us so spending lots is not something any of us do. Afterall, how many people when recalling happy childhoods say 'It was because my parents bought me lot's of stuff'? Never. Happy childhoods are about a lot more than material goods.
According to research carried out on behalf of charity Family Action, most UK families will spend between £530 and £682 on gifts, decorations, food and drink. The lowest price for an acceptable Christmas for a low-income family with two children is £182,- but the average family can spend up to £700. That seems a lot of money, fine if you can afford it but according to statistics compiled by Supermarket.com 47% of parents are under pressure to spend more than they can really afford. I think that's a really sad reflection on society. Who wants to be raising children who think that they can have what they want or that the way to be happy is through material spending? That's what I hate about Christmas. This pressure to spend, spend, spend.
And if it's not cooking up a mountain of food, maxing the credit card on gifts people don't want and children don't really appreciate it's this notion that Christmas means you have to go out and get blind drunk at every opportunity. Was this what Jesus had in mind?
It's commonly known that A&E units are busiest over Christmas, the two week festive period sees around 40% of attendances due to alcohol related accidents and illnesses. Now, I'm not teetotal by any stretch of the imagination, but for an adult to drink so much they end up in hospital is ridiculous and stupid and because it's Christmas really doesn't make a good excuse. At least now I don't have a 'proper' job I'm not expected to spend my evenings in the company of work colleagues and staff under the guise of 'Christmas Party' and eat crap mass produced food at a big table with the most boring people ever and who hate me anyway because I am their boss!
So, as well as spending too much (presents, decorations, things to wear, food, drink and cards) we have to spend time with people we don't much care for be it the neighbours for sherry, family we don't like, work colleagues who we see too much of anyway and friends of friends we think are pricks we have to do it beautifully. The pressure to be a combination of a top chef, an A list Party Planner, a perfectly dressed super model is at it's most intense at Christmas.
I don't do it- I buy for my immediate family and never spend too much, I don't go to parties I don't want to, I don't see people I don't want to, I am having a simple lunch with a good friend and her elderly mother who are both wickedly funny. I don't send cards (what a bloody waste they are) but instead give money to charity and don't give a toss if people think I am a bit Bah Humbug. I just can't wait til it's all over, and I have to stop listening to people witter on about the stress, pressure, busyness and expense and everything goes back to normal.