Gift Giving

By: A.C.

Marketing people are incredibly good at what they do, which is convincing the public that they need something they never thought they needed.  I of course refer to the extremely commercial bonanzas that have been imported into this country from America. The trick or treat culture and the sales culture in the retailers of Black Friday.

This marketing has become so aggressive in the UK that it now extends for a week, and it is up to the buyer to ascertain if in fact they are being conned by the prices on offer.

Just around the corner is Christmas, with all its “must haves”. Like cards, family presents, food, and the stress, anxiety and for some, the debt to clear all next year.

I am neither a Grinch nor a Santa Claus type, but I feel that all these commercial representations of what is the essence & spirit of the culture need to be emphasised, rather than the goods themselves.

I find the American TV Channels on Freeview that have been screening Christmas Films since October on all aspects of the “ miracle” of Christmas – which is usually about commerce and Santa Claus, to be schmaltzy and a bit nauseating. So I give them a body –swerve. Does all this glitter and tinsel TV induce folk to want a “perfect” Christmas?

I have no idea, but I noticed the other day a story about a father of five who wanted to crowd fund himself in order to give his children a good Christmas. He has raised his target of £2000 for his five children.

I do not like to go back decades to when I was a child and living in a struggling household, where presents were not the norm, and anything given, however small, was gratefully received.

I grew up in what could be termed a time when folks were recovering from yet another devastating world war; and beliefs, customs and practices were all over the place. Deeply ingrained ideas of what society, culture and community meant was being challenged publicly, politically and culturally. In households all over the UK, people were quietly changing their view of life.

The crowd–funder in my opinion felt that he had to “give” expensive presents in order for his children to feel they had a “good Christmas”. There seemed to be little about what this revival of life at the darkest point of the year is about; love, memories, and generosity of spirit. It should be a time of reconciliation, forgiveness, welcoming home the absent traveler, sharing food and memories together, and despite hardship, understanding that what can be afforded is given in love. 

I believe that, is a relevant and powerful teaching for our children.  

This video has gone viral because of its simple message that a mother who was dying, left her son a decades’ worth of tape cassettes with her voice giving messages of love and support through her old Sony Walkman.  

Presents bought in a store will wear out, but the message that the spirit of love is enduring and lasting, has caught the public’s imagination in this video.

 There is no greater gift than that.

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One Response to Gift Giving

  1. AC says:

    This story has caused a bit of stir in the press. Mainly the right -wing press it has to be said.

    The Head Teacher of Lady Lumley School in Pickering North Yorks has stopped all Christmas activities.

    “Pupils were told they must write to their RE teacher to argue their case for the baubles to be put back on the tree.
    “No cards, no parties, no gifts and no Christmas tree”, RE teacher Chris Paul told pupils.

    “Christmas is a day celebrating the birth of Jesus and should be a time of good will to all, yet it can be a very stressful, expensive, argumentative and lonely time.
    “[It] has been buried under an avalanche of commercialisation,” she said.
    The teacher challenged pupils to consider the true meaning of Christmas and come up with answers to persuade her to change her mind. ”

    Not so different to Scotland after the Reformation.

    ” A 1640 Act of the Parliament of Scotland made the celebration of “Yule vacations” illegal. England, under Oliver Cromwell, also imposed a ban on Christmas at around the same time. Despite the repealing of the Act in 1686, the suppression of Christmas in Scotland effectively lasted for 400 years, with December 25 only becoming a public holiday in 1958. Boxing Day was not recognised as a festive holiday until 1974. Concrete information on how this state of affairs lasted so long is scant, but it’s clear that the pre-existing emphasis on Hogmanay, coupled with the Presbyterian Church of Scotland’s indifference towards Christmas (even when the Victorians were actively reviving the holiday from its post-Puritan slumber) led most Scots to accept a long-standing status quo.”

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