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The International Writers Magazine
: Modern Lives

The Real Meaning of Christmas
Holly Bates

Ah, the festive season is upon us once again. The streets are adorned with twinkling fairy lights which look like they have seen better days, the are shops full of toiletry sets and plastic oddments which will be thrown to one side the minute they’re opened, the supermarkets are stocked up with extra large bags of fat and sugar filled snack packs to gorge yourself with while watching the television after lunch on Christmas Day.

The date is November the 18th and for at least two weeks now there have been these signs of the festive season creeping into our lives. From the minute Halloween is over, the empty spaces in shop windows and displays are crammed full of Christmas themed goods, enticing people to spend all their hard earned money. Television adverts shamelessly aim their messages at small children during their breaks, portraying to them smiling happy children with the latest piece of plastic or the most recent popular fad. It fills their little brains with the notion that they just won’t be happy without whatever the advert tells them they need. And children are just fantastic about emotional blackmail; they know so many ways to guilt their parents into buying them these expensive gadgets. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to basically say everyone else at school has one and that a life of misery and bullying awaits without one. This is a device for the older child though, as the younger tends to stick with using Santa as their trick: "Santa will think I’m bad if he doesn’t bring me all these gifts". A heartbreaking statement…which works every time.

Materialism really comes in to its own around Christmas, infecting everyone with ideas of ideal presents and fantastic foods. Children are indeed the main targets, as this is the commercial sector’s largest market: everything is geared up for children. They know parents have the money but more importantly they know children have the power of persuasion. Even on food for Christmas; anything children ask for, they usually get "because it’s Christmas." This excuse is used in my household a lot, and we have out all the time over Christmas bowls of nuts and sweets to be had any time of the day. And chocolates from the tree, or an item from a selection box is always allowed at any time even just before dinner – just because its Christmas. These things would never be allowed under normal circumstances. It seems to hold a funny power over all of us, Christmas, not just children, but parents who give in to their children. Expensive presents are bought and wrapped and lovingly placed under the tree. Tiny, yet still shockingly dear stocking fillers are crammed into bulging stockings. Chocolates are hung from the tree and coins hidden around the house, to be eaten whenever. Special drinks, snacking foods, and jars of Roses and Quality Street are purchased in excess. Decorations are hung from every corner, outside and in. But you ask one child what the real meaning of Christmas is and they would be lost. Baby Jesus? What has he got to do with Christmas?
© Holly Bates November 2004
Holly is a Creative Writing Student at Portsmouth University



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