ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Nish

So This Is Christmas?

As I turn up the collar on my favourite winter coat, this wind is blowin’...wait a minute...bugger...that’s Michael Jackson! Gah! Even the bloody title is from John Lennon! Whilst this month’s verbose bilge isn’t about seasonal songs I will say that I don’t mind them. Well, except for that Paul McCartney one...the one about “simply having a wonderful Christmas time”. Sugary sweet, nauseating and thoroughly unpleasant, it's like someone vomiting Tia Maria in your ears.

However, I will borrow a little more than just some lyrics from the former Beatle and that's a little cynicism and scepticism (some people would say that I already have more than enough) regarding this time of year. Sure, it's easy to knock Christmas as commercial, crass, clichéd and...well...crap. The sad thing is that it is all these things. For me the essential crapness of Christmas is summed up by there being Mr Christmas and Little Miss Christmas books. With glitter on the covers. For £2.50. Is nothing sacred?

It's true that Christmas for me hasn't been the same since the sweet aroma of plastic Star Wars figures and vehicles faded. But there's more to it than no longer being a greedy child (particularly since I still get a tonne of materialistic junk, the only difference being is that I now buy it myself). Actually, greed is part of the problem...or it could be that it is actually a consequence of the main problem: the true meaning of Christmas.

This chestnut is dragged up every year and everywhere - from TV shows to syrupy children's cartoons. The latter is probably the best way of getting the message to the people it's going to have the most impact on: kids. It was easier when you were a kid because despite being a demanding so-and-so you knew that deep-down in your avaricious soul that Christmas was about giving as well as receiving. To keep up one end of the bargain you would make a card (involving prodigious amounts of glitter, and shiny gold and silver paper) for your parents and you got your toys. You gave and you received.

It's different now and not just because we're all older now (some of us more so than others). It's not even a case of receiving outweighing the giving. Christmas doesn't seem to have meaning at all any more - it's just buying. Okay, so we've always bought things (and I'm not suggesting we get the tubes of glitter out) but take a look out there will you? For the second year running I'm viewing Christmas from behind the till, and what I see is ugly. We're buying for what we think is a special day and time, but is it really different to any other time of the year? Yes, we buy for others but is that because we feel we have to rather than because we want to?

Don't think I'm evading the shitty stick of blame in this instance - I'm just guilty of 'buy, buy, buy' too. Do I feel relief after Christmas shopping because I've got nice things for everyone or simply because I've bought something and don't have to brave the high street again? (You won't need three guesses I can assure you.) It all seems like madness (madness I tell you!) to me but Christmas isn't going to change now so I guess it's up to me. You know what they say? Take a look at yourself and then make a cha...bugger!