Meaningless gifting, turkey slaughter, rabid drinking and the wanton destruction of trees. Please someone, steal Christmas, says Peter Sherwood.
I worked in personal development seminars. One of our exercises was called ‘giver/ taker.’ After three days, each person was voted by the other 59 participants on whether they were a giver or a taker in life. It was remarkably accurate. I was voted high on the ‘giver’ scale. That gives me no bragging rights whatsoever and does not make me special or angelic. It means simply that in order to provide my shabby existence with the illusion of meaning, I need to give a bit.
In his short speech accepting the Mark Twain Award, former Late Show host David Letterman said, “I know only two things for certain: If you pull a hair from your nose you will sneeze, and if you give to people and animals, you will feel better.” So, when Christmas comes around, as it does every November, I tire quickly of ‘a time of giving.’ I go, “Right, and?”
Pa rum pum pum pum
What drives me crazy is the brainwashed version of giving – every Christmas, we give a miscellany of tasteless trappings to people who, as often as not, don’t need or want them. Then there’s the wonton slaughter of turkeys. As if they don’t cop a hard enough time at Thanksgiving (though American birds might welcome a quick beheading after life in Trumpland).
Of course, Santa is as far removed from Jesus’ birthday as the tooth fairy. All of it is lost in the infuriating repetition of syrupy music, most of which is also as far away from the original message as an iPhone for your nearest and dearest – along with a tacky HK$50 card with the cornball message starring a snowman.
When a religious celebration becomes a year-round mega-industrial event, maybe it’s time to switch off the cutesy Christmas lights and think again.
Like everyone else I am always shoved into the cogs of Xmas machinery early on, to be churned around with mindless and irrelevant customs that continue until I collapse exhausted at 8pm on New Year’s Eve. Instead of consuming truckloads of booze in under a week, how about rationing it over 12 months? And Christmas trees! Don’t start me. Instead of watching the forlorn things go brown and then chucking them in a dumpster, how about we send the kids out to plant a few instead?
One year I decided to celebrate the event on July 25. It worked out well. I was the only one who knew so there were no gifts to buy or turkeys to murder. Noting it was a Tuesday, I poured myself a half decent glass of Port and went to bed.
The problem is that Christmas, my birthday and New Year’s sort of collide in an alcoholic stupor. I might as well be acknowledging the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, or France’s Festival of the Pig. Basically, I yearn to disappear into some neutral universe until it all goes away. But it never does, and by January 31 we are implored to reserve a table for that celebratory Christmas Eve dinner. Because it’s only 334 days till Xmas.
Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 19 years. The former head of an international public relations firm, Peter is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.
Illustration courtesy of www.vecteezy.comTags: Christmas, gifts, peter sherwood, religion, the grinch