Like almost everything that was once pure and pious, Christmas has certainly been hijacked by capitalism. Everything now is rooted in pressure and urgency, and it feels inescapable. We have to do everything all at once: to have every member of the family in the same place at the same time, to buy each other every present they have asked for and to exchange said presents at the same time, to eat everything on one plate at the same time, to watch everything on telly at the same time. It’s been decades, probably, since it was commonplace for December 25th to only be observed by those of the Christian faith, and for the day to be a positive religious affirmation. Yes, we bleat out the sugar-coated version of the Christmas story to any child brave enough to question this whole yuletide operation, but so few of us actually believe what we’re saying. It’s not at all about religion, it’s all about consumerism. The start of the Christmas period is not marked by the days of Advent, it is the time you first see festive drinks creeping into your local coffee shop or seeing limited edition Christmas collections appearing in your favourite brands.
I’m in a fortunate position as I don’t feel my culture has been jeopardised one iota, because the nativity story bears no genuine significance to my heritage, nor does the stress of buying gifts for second cousins I see once a year feature in the bones of my history. There’s no reason for me to be cynical about Christmas, it was literally always a massive novelty to me, and now it’s ever-increasing. And it feels like we’re even past the point of mourning the loss of the ‘true meaning of Christmas’, no one really cares about that anymore – forgive me Father. I am, however, massively bothered by the huge corporatism of the holiday. Most importantly, the pressure it puts on us. I’ve written about the theme of everything all at once, but what about the simple fact that this even has to be ‘a thing’? It feels impossible to ignore this day, which one might want to do for a huge variety of reasons, due to the constant and omnipresent popularisation of what December 25th should look like. Moreover, distraction is impossible as everywhere’s fucking closed, especially restaurants and shops, and if they’re open, it’s only pandering to the new-age Capitalist Christmas. Bless you if you’re trying to ignore Christmas by being at work, but are surrounded by your colleagues complaining for being in the exact same position as you, or customers asking increasingly personal questions about why you’re working and not home with family.
But the fact is, and this is something they won’t tell you, it is okay to ignore Christmas. It’s okay to acknowledge Christmas, but to do it in your own way. Feel free to engage your personal traditions, however unseemly (of course not if it causes pain to yourself or others). Spend the day alone, with ice cream and 90s trash TV. Spend the evening having sex with a group of people you’ve never met before. Anything goes. It can just be another day, it literally is just a day.
Everything is just so contained in pressure: school, work, special occasions. Give us a break.