Sophie Maguire asks “Is it incessant greed, pride or just plain consumer brainwashing that has us spending money we just realistically don’t have?” 


Nowadays Father Christmas is quite possibly a sexual deviant, carolers are hooded yobs looking to make a quick buck, toy stores are crowded and overflowing with spoilt children and our time-honoured Christmas tunes have been replaced with the dreaded novelty gimmick track, which crops up each year without fail. You can only get excited once the Coca Cola advert graces your screens and Starbucks have practically achieved a miracle, ‘Christmas in a cup’. Who would have thought you could bottle the stuff, eh!

It’s depressing really when you think about it, that the season to be jolly has in fact been turned into a retail event at our expense. Packed stores, irate customers, a relatively miserable shopping experience and final demands from your credit card company – Merry Christmas.

According to IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group), last year we spent a staggering seven billion pounds online alone, in the lead up to Christmas day and in the midst of a recession and with that number only predicted to increase each year I’m left wondering, can we even afford Christmas anymore?

Advert after advert of families adorning the tree with its twinkling lights, swapping desirable gifts; the latest phone for Dad, a designer bag for Mum, expensive gadgets and the latest toy sensations for the kids, and they all look so happy, don’t they? Are these retail companies with their empty promises of Christmas joy to blame for our excessive spending habits, or is it simply that we have forgotten the true message of Christmas?

“Maybe Christmas”, he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps…means a little bit more.” – Dr Seuss

The giving and receiving of gifts during the festive season is both a pleasure and a privilege, but it’s the obsessive nature in which we Brits spend that has me beguiled. Where has this need to spend come from, surely it’s the season of goodwill, not bad debt. Whatever happened to just being with the ones you love?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no Scrooge, I can accept that the giving of gifts is a time-honoured tradition and that it just so happens to be one of the best things about Christmas day for many young children; and some adults – after all, who doesn’t love presents? But I think the Grinch made a valid point; it’s the utter discontentment that has me angry and it was that same dissatisfaction that drove him to pulverise Christmas for the town of Who Ville. It’s not even really about the money spent; what has me baffled is that I cannot tell you what I received as a present last year.

In fact, I can remember very few presents I have ever received. Yet I know that the people gifting me have spent a small fortune in a bid to impress, when all you really need is the people you love around you. Material goods do not make Christmas, it’s an idea manufactured by the retailers to suck money out of us and we are quite literally buying into it.

So this year before you mindlessly splurge your hard-earned cash in a bid to keep your family ‘happy’, maybe you should ask yourself what Christmas really means to you.

Because I believe Christmas to be of the heart and mind and not of the pocket.

By Sophie Maguire

Feature taken from Semple Issue II 

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