Thursday, 25 December 2014

More family, less Santa.

And if my baby girl/When you’re 21 or 31/And Christmas comes around and you find yourself nine thousand miles from home/You’ll know whatever comes/Your brothers and sister and me and your mum/Will be waiting for you in the sun.

“Which was the first Christmas you remember?”

A return trip home has seen my father bring out the deep questions on Christmas Eve.

December 25 means a lot more now than it did when I was six years of age, but yet I woke on Christmas morning completely nonplussed.

In the formative years, there was a bundling down the stairs, a race of anticipation as to what I was brought for Christmas.

How many presents had I received? How big were they?

And just what did Santa Claus choose out for me after a full 365 days of convincing myself that my ADHD-afflicted “naughtiness” hadn’t overridden my “niceness”.

I couldn’t accurately answer my father’s history-indulging question accurately, so I answered thus: I certainly remember what I first viewed Christmas as.

And that was commercialization.

Not the togetherness, the oneness, or the unity. I simply remembered Christmas by wrapping paper and a sense or lack of fulfillment by what my parents – in disguise – had given me.

And yes, I have all of the usual objections/To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion/To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian/Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer

Of course, being a reflective piece, hindsight is a wonderful thing. But I look back on my six-year-old self with no more or less disdain than I do looking back at the 21-year-old self just six weeks prior.

I am attacking a very innocent and defenseless age group when I say that the concept of Santa Claus is one that I believe should be dispelled.

After all, it is only when children reach a certain age that they realise Santa was a concept, and not a person. A concept aimed to reward children for a year’s worth of good behavior – better known as the trait called politeness – only to see them act like rambunctious scoundrels until the parents’ next reminder: “Santa’s watching”.

But let’s step outside the plausible fantasy of Father Christmas that is this ever-giving, omnipresent guardian that has control on a child’s behavior above and beyond the very real parents.

The creation of Santa Claus is actually based on the very real story of a man named Nicholas of Myra, who was orphaned at a young age and distributed the leftover inheritance to the poor.

But while the mythology behind Santa Claus provides a heart-warming fantasy for children, it is when we move onto the issue of gifts that strikes a cord for which many parents tread carefully in playing the “Santa game”. It causes the concept of Santa to become discordant, and to become disproportionate.

Santa’s wealth and resources come under fire when a shit of a child, born to a lavish household, receives PlayStation 4’s and other things they want from ‘Santa’. All the while, the child of the working class parent receives stationary and underwear, considering – when school starts back and the comparisons begin – why Santa isn’t as fond of him or her as the next child.

By extension, does the parents’ not-as-extravagant-as-Santa’s gift get undervalued and not appreciated?

Santa died for me when I wanted a Nintendo 64 game and instead got a football instead. The recognition of my own mother’s handwriting only confirmed previous suspicions, but taught me the valued lesson of appreciation.

Surely now in these formative years, the focus of Christmas has to move away from the scramble to open presents, and onto the wholesome experience that will stay with them til death – family.

And you, my baby girl/My jetlagged infant daughter/You'll be handed round the room/Like a puppy at a primary school/And you won't understand/But you will learn someday/That wherever you are and whatever you face/These are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world/My sweet blue-eyed girl

I opened with Tim Minchin’s “White Wine In The Sun” to pay homage to what I believe to be the best Christmas carol available.

As someone who lives not quite nine thousand miles from home (but still not at home nevertheless), this year’s Christmas and the five years before it have taken on a significance that is far removed from what my parents got me.

Even to be reunited with friends I have grown up with converging on our hometown from different corners of the country, reinforce the significance of what I will eventually impart to my own children.

But even a quick peep on social media today saw that many of my friends valued the very same thing. Sure a new iPhone 6 is a material pleasure that will be cherished for the purpose it serves. It will however get dropped in nightclubs, house regrettable photos and footage of you from afore-mentioned establishments, and eventually die to be later replaced by an iPhone 7.

Love is eternal and at Christmas time there is no better front for that to be apparent.

The best gift a parent can shower their child is the love, affection and support mechanism from their time suckling a mother’s breast right through to when they have children of their own.

As Minchin begins and finishes his song…

I really like Christmas/It’s sentimental I know, but I just really like it

I trust you all had a merry and safe day yesterday. You’ll notice there were no religious undertones throughout this piece. It’s Christmas, can’t we all just get on?

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