Shrinking Christmas

It occurred to me this year more than any year before just how much Christmas has shrunk.

When I was little, some forty years ago, it lasted at least ten days and that was not counting the build up of carol concerts, school and work parties including big free parties thrown by employers for the children of staff. We used to go to an annual one at our Town Hall it was a very elaborate affair enjoyed by thousands of kids.

From Christmas Eve to around 3rd of January it was lock down time. We stayed home or visited friends and family and had them over to us. The Christmas calendar was filled with parties, entertaining and visits, good food and excess went on for well over a week and the spirit of Christmas; joy, peace, goodwill, love as well as the sound of Christmas music and even TV scheduling ran on for days.

Now it seems that Christmas day is it for many people it’s like a birthday rather than a festive period. I know that’s what it essentially is but you know what I’m getting at here.

People discard the decorations, go back to work and whip the Christmas spirit off along with the Christmas jumper on the night of 25th December and I think it’s sad.

I know a lot of this culture shift can be blamed on commercialisation and an emphasis put on spending and buying before the event as well as immediately after with sales starting on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Of course the knock on effects of that include people not only being drawn away from family and gatherings to shop but also to work, something unheard of when I was a kid.

We complain about that yet we choose to do it. If we didn’t put a demand on retailers on Boxing Day just like we didn’t back in the day, they would see no value in opening and paying staff to work. If we didn’t place a demand on them for a whole week they’d stay closed and workers could stay home with family and families could stay together for a whole week instead of dragging kids away from toys to go buy more stuff they don’t need before the turkey has gone cold.

I think it’s sad that instead of a buffet tea round at auntie Mary’s the Boxing Day activity of choice is now more likely to be trawling through a sale while the kid sits screaming in the pushchair and the husband gets five minutes to play his console game in peace if he’s lucky, spending hours trying to park the car is more likely.

Well not in my house, we drag it out as long as possible and this year even though my princess has headed back for work today and the world is back in full non festive swing it’s still Christmas here and we’re locked down with lovely food lovely company and are still only half way through the pile of Christmas themed dvds yet.

We don’t get enough time as families we don’t get enough time to cut out the world and enjoy each other, we don’t relax our bodies and minds enough from the hum drum of life and I believe Christmas of old gave us a prolonged excuse to do that, to recharge batteries and prepare for a new year, invigorated, refreshed and rebalanced mind body and spirit and I think it’s a crying shame that we are giving that all up so easily.

The Christmas week (or fortnight in some cases) widespread closure of construction, manufacturing, service and retail industries gave working people time to spend relaxing with their loved ones indulging in the finer things in life just like more wealthy people did all year round. Essential services ran on skeleton staffing and non essential services were suspended and those who did work were suitably rewarded with time off in lieu, generous over time rates and enhanced pay. It was a taste of freedom and an escape from the grind made easier with the annual modest pay bonus or company gift (another thing which has shrunk or vanished).

We’ve more or less lost the Easter period as a break and bank holidays are a non-event and now Christmas is heading the same way and all because we are mindwashed by big corporations and media into believing we need more stuff and we need that stuff more than we need a breather and time with other people.

I know this is simplistic and nostalgic in nature and perhaps times have changed for the better for some, they can choose when to take the bulk of their leave without an extended Christmas break being forced on them, maybe in warmer months when they can enjoy time off more and it works for those who don’t celebrate Christmas in our modern multi-religious societies and it means that services and production can be better managed and spread out without sudden peaks in demand and costly troughs to negotiate or gaps in services to those who rely on them. Maybe you have another view point on this. But for me it is still Christmas!

For us it is not over until the fat (more on that when I emerge fully from hibernation) lady sings and we haven’t even come close to getting out the karaoke yet.

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