Christmas is a time for giving. As the song beckons ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, people scramble to purchase the ‘perfect’ gift for their loved ones. Family traditions are created and the whole family gather around the beautifully decorated tree to exchange gifts and then eat copious amounts of food, but this comes at a cost.
On average in 2017 people spent £821.25 on Christmas. Christmas is the season of excess and people can often be pulled into financial difficulties and even debt. Are we becoming too engrossed in the materialistic trappings of the season?
I am usually very excited about Christmas by now. I start to plan around September so that I can enjoy my December and Christmas to its fullest. This year, however, I am just not feeling the festive season and the childish excitement I usually get. I have still got to finish off getting the children’s presents and organise everything else that I need to. I have not been scouring the shops such as The Range for fancy decorations to add to my collection. The thought of putting up the Christmas tree does not fill me with joy the way it has done over the years and I am not sure why.
One main reason I have felt this way is due to finance. This year our money does not seem to be stretching as far and I feel guilty whenever I ‘splurge’ on something that will only be around for a few days in the year. I am in a vicious circle of overthinking about Christmas; I want my Christmas to be great but I worry about the cost of it all.
Caught in a trap
I say ‘I am not going to go overboard’ every, single year. However, I usually end up buying more than I should do and I have not felt particularly guilty about it. I do not go excessively overboard, I still keep within our budget and means but this year has felt different and I dislike it.
This all started when our car needed some major repairs in October. By this time I usually have a few presents already bought and this year was no exception. Due to the car having to be repaired, we had to dip into our savings to pay for it. I had never had to use my savings before. Being careful, I never pushed things beyond my means and so unexpected payments where usually covered.
I began my Christmas shopping for the children and came to a realisation; my money was not stretching as far as it had the previous year. It felt like all of a sudden somebody had decided to hike the prices up by a considerable amount rather than slowly rising over the years. I instantly felt guilty and a failure as a parent. The idea of shopping for the kids presents lost its appeal as I realised that I would not have as much for them as previous years.
Has Christmas become too much about consumerism?
Christmas is supposed to be about ‘goodwill to all’ but I am forever being reminded of the materialistic side of Christmas. I personally do not mind that Christmas starts in October in the shops, it gives me time to budget. However, the constant bombardment of advertising surrounding the season is wearing thin.
Being a mother of two young children, I watch children’s TV. In the run-up to Christmas, children are relentlessly assaulted with adverts for the latest ‘must have’ toys. Everywhere I look I am reminded that there is an expectation to make this ‘the best Christmas yet’.
The ‘perfect’ Christmas
The media is swamping us with constant images of the ‘perfect’ Christmas. There is even competition for the best Christmas advert. People will be scrambling over each other to get the best deals on Black Friday to ensure that the 25th December is the most magical of times. I am already sick of Christmas because I am worrying myself into circles in my mind.
Do presents even matter? I would say they do; we are now preconditioned to expect these gifts. Children think they have been naughty or hard done by because they do not get everything they want on their Christmas list. I remember always wanting a PlayDoh mop-a-top shop for Christmas but never receiving one. Oh, how cruel my parents were to get me loads of other toys, but not this one.
Despite not having a Playdoh set, I have something else; great memories. Memories of the cheesy decorations that my mother would put on the wall of the angels and the nativity. I have memories of putting up the tree to Christmas songs and how the angel on top would never hang straight, my mum would say she was drunk.
Remembering the smiles of my parents as I would open my presents. I remember laughing at shows such as Morecambe and Wise and watching loads of great family movies. Also remembering having the most amazing Christmas dinners with tons of sprouts. My mum’s Christmas dinner is the stuff of legend.
I do not remember many presents but I knew I was loved and the excitement of Christmas filled me full of joy. My mother has recently told me about how she would worry whether I liked what she got me. I now understand how she must have felt as I plan my own family Christmas. I know that deep down, my children will have a great Christmas despite the toys they get. They will be spoilt with cuddles and kisses and memories of watching films and eating together as a family.
A reason to celebrate
I have much to be grateful for. This year has not been the easiest year, however, I am thankful for what I do have. That is a reason to celebrate. My Christmas might bit be as lavish as previous years but I will make sure to enjoy it. I want to be present with the people I love rather than receive many gifts. I want to appreciate every moment with my children while they are still young.
My goal this Christmas is to be kinder to myself and just go with the flow. Christmas does need to be perfect in order to be memorable. As long as my family is happy then I have my perfect Christmas and I am certain that my children would rather valuable time with their mother than with a mountain of toys. Surely they would pick their Mum and Dad over a load of expensive plastic, wouldn’t they?
Does money matter?
It would be naive to say that money is not important at Christmas. Christmas is about giving and it does help if you have a budget you can spend. I would also be naive in thinking that presents do not matter to my children. I asked my son the question ‘would you rather have loads of toys for Christmas or the whole day playing with Mum and Dad?’ My son chose toys at first but when I informed him he would have to play with them on his own he quickly changed his mind.
I am in no way saying that people should not spoil their children with gifts at Christmas, far from it. I believe, however, that children need to be taught the value of things by not having every single thing that they want.
How does Santa afford all those presents?
I have told my son that Santa does not buy the presents, his Dad and I do and we send them to him so he can decide whether my son gets them. He is now aware that his budget is not infinite and he only gets a certain amount of presents.
I may be called cruel for doing this; you may say that I should send every last penny of my money on my children and go without myself, but what will that achieve? I want my children to understand the value of money and, as my mother would say, that ‘it does not grow on trees’. I am going to make this Christmas awesome, however, I am not falling into the trap of overspending and then regretting it when the new year comes.
Do you think Christmas has become too consumerist? As always, let me know what you think in the comments below. I look forward to hearing other people’s views on this matter.
Ciao for now beauties xx