Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Deck the halls with ob-li-ga-tions, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-laaa

Ah, that season is upon us. Winter? Yes, that’s arrived. Like every news programme has already confirmed, it’s cold, snow is falling and we can’t handle it. We know. But that’s not the only thing lurking around the corner, waiting to make our lives more difficult.

I’m talking about the ‘holiday’ season. Whisper it quietly...Christmas. I almost forgot all about it until I was kindly reminded by my efficient borough council who hung Christmas lights in the middle of November. How I love paying my council tax. They seem to be of the same mind as television executives. It started with issuing reminders early, insisting on adding jingling bells to perfectly serviceable theme tunes and boasting about their imminent festive programme schedule. All the same old movies as last year, then? Can’t wait.

Anyway, I’m not exactly sure why it’s called a holiday as the whole concept of ‘time off work’seems redundant. There is always more than enough work to replace that undertaken as part of the normal day job. And you’re not getting paid for all the extra toil.

The reason why it is so problematic: it’s the season of obligations. From cards to gifts to food, they all bring their own duties and tasks. Of course, you have to send a card to everyone that sends you one – trees, be damned! First class Christmas stamps must be purchased, even if the service is actually rather third class.
Technology minded types have worked hard to make sure we have the wonders of telephones and email, lets not waste their gifts. Besides, ‘charity’ Christmas card makers often only give a pathetic fraction of their profits to good causes. You’re better off giving the money directly to a homeless shelter yourself.

We must all buy excessive amounts of food, especially all those that are disliked by many and end up getting thrown away. Well, a bin overflowing with sprouts is traditional, isn’t it? Though the stomach doesn’t suddenly develop a larger capacity, eating to excess is now requirement. Possibly because it makes it easy to choose ‘go to the gym’ as a new year’s resolution.

Recession? What recession? Spend, dammit, spend! Christ’s birth? Who? It’s all about consumerism, which means having to work out what to get people and, for some, taking into account what they got you last year. Of course, the wonders of the Internet mean you don’t have to trudge the cold streets, but then you have to concern yourself with an inept postal service. All for the sake of those essential gifts.

You’re duty-bound to see every member of your extended family- whether you like or get on with them regardless. That can never be good. I’m sure the pressure to have a fantastic time is how all the traditional Christmas arguments begin; exhausted and stressed that infernal goodwill to all ends up working against you.

The problem of feeling obliged is so widespread that even pop stars are suffering. They are obliged to record (bad) cover versions of Christmas songs to inflict them on the world when the season of giving rolls around. Well, they have to make a few bob somehow – they need those royalties to pay for multiple cars, houses, boob jobs, divorces etc.

There is an easy way to improve Christmas...only do what is necessary. Decrease the pressure, increase the pleasure. Easy to say, but imagine how stress free it could all be if you only adopted the attitude: it doesn’t have to be done and I’m not doing any more than needed. Partial bah humbug! Read more by Shermaine