During ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ many are filled with festive joy, generosity, and hope, but can the same really be said for everyone?
Some believe the holiday has lost its charm through excessive spending and the endless recycling of music and decorations, making it nothing more than a cliché. Is Christmas as loved and enjoyed as we know or a holiday to dread year after year?
The Christmas spirit brings light to children’s lives from the summertime, to writing their wish list, and then getting to tear open the wrapping paper early in the morning on the 25th. Parents marvel at their children’s glee upon opening their toys, a positive verdict to calm the panic from potentially buying the wrong doll or the wrong version of FIFA. The image of families together, celebrating the day brings to mind the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas; unity and festivity for all. Gifts, be that giving or receiving, provide a sense of pride and accomplishment, no matter your age, further cementing the roots of Christmas spirit in materialism. So, are presents really the highlight of the season, or simply a burden that gets worse with adulthood?
Christmas has been seen to bring peace and unity throughout time, and arguably the core values of a non-capitalist ideal. Be that by practicing faith and worship in the traditional Christian sense, providing provisions for homeless shelters to spread joy and generosity, or like the armistice in world War II when soldiers from opposing sides played football with one another on Christmas day.
For a university student however, the magic is somewhat dampened by the added stress of upcoming deadlines and finances. Weeks away from the next student loan payment, and months in to the first payment, the anxiety of finding the right gift, or funding a flat Christmas dinner on such a tight budget, significantly darkens the mood. Involved in multiple secret Santa’s from your flat, societies and friends piling on top of family commitments back home, that overdraft is staring you down. Which begs the question, has the true meaning of the festive season been lost to expenditure?
For those still in possession of a Christmas spirit, during university the feeling of Christmas seems to swell as plans for Christmas dinner and decorating the flat becomes the main topic of conversation. Secret Santa is delegated, and plans for who’s in charge of the turkey are well underway as tally charts are made for people to decide what they want on their plate. Disagreements occur on the best Christmas movie, arguing between the classic charm of Love Actually or the Britishness of Nativity to bring the enjoyment of the holiday to life as everyone sings sparkle and shine. Isn’t that the purpose of Christmas, to argue on when Christmas songs are supposed to be played, but ultimately end up snuggled up with your mates watching a hallmark movie, wearing matching pyjamas?
Christmas isn’t seen by everyone to be worth all the effort. The same songs, food, routine can be boring for people, especially for those who don’t fall into the familiar cultural norm. So, does Christmas deserve to be the ‘main event’ if people aren’t enjoying it? Whether it be from the expense, or the routine the holiday has fallen victim to, it can feel as though Christmas must now be celebrated in a certain way to ‘do it right.’
This puts a lot of pressure on the holiday to be extravagant when all that is really needed is family and a place to forget about the humdrum, whether that be a church service, shelter or no-man’s land. Christmas at its simplest should bring a sense of warmth and connection no matter who you are, and that’s what should be treasured above all.