Christmas is fast approaching, and the market knows it.
On Saturday 17th of November, Trondheim was lit up by Christmas lights lining its cobbled streets, and a grand, new Christmas tree will brighten up the square in December. Shop windows are already filled with red, green, glitter and snow, signs for Christmas presents for her and him, and every coffee shop has their sugary Christmas range in stock, ready to send Christmas spirit right to your core.
We pop our hats on, buy a Christmas-themed paper cup filled with milk, sugar, etc., and stand outside in the misty, bone-cold weather and watch the city spend excessive electricity on light. We open our emptying wallets, buy this and that in shops that know exactly what dad wants for Christmas. We peruse bright streets in search of more material pleasure, surrounded by the smell of Christmas, wafting over from the market where someone is burning almonds in sugar, another serving gløgg. And we want it all. We empty our pockets to try to please ourselves and our loved ones, buying things none of us necessarily need. We feel happy and warm inside because we are surrounded by such lovely artificial light in the dark, winter evenings, the excess of sugar keeping up the gaiety (until the next sugar-low hits and we have to rush to the nearest stall selling porridge), and we feel satisfied the materialist overlords won’t hunt us down this Christmas either.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all its tacky lights, smells and sounds (I did, after all, start listening to Christmas music in November) But aren’t we too knowledgeable for this? Don’t we know how bad it is for us, our planet, the future? I think we do, but we choose to ignore it, holding on to our belief that Christmas is meant to be excessive. I’m not preaching the lack of Christianity in Christmas, but I do believe the market and our consumerist habits have taken over. So why do we continue to do it, to play the consumerist game? Why do we fall victim to all these temptations when, deep down, we know we shouldn’t?
I don’t know the answer, unfortunately. But I do know that we can make some changes. If we don’t buy all those unnecessary gifts, don’t excessively do anything, we might still feel good. After all, isn’t that the major worry? That we won’t feel happy? We’re so used to satisfying ourselves with material things, not stopping to consider what actually makes us happy at the end of the year. I, for one, know that I love and appreciate Christmas because I can see my whole family together in a room, relaxing and not worrying about work or the future. To me, the happiness comes from the time I spend, not the money. I don’t need all those presents (although I need new socks). What I need is quality time with loved ones. I doubt you totally disagree.
So maybe this Christmas, take a step back and consider your actions. Maybe don’t buy your dad that hilarious, absolutely useless tool, or your mum that tenth scarf. You know they don’t need it, they only need to see you and see you happy, and it goes both ways. We believe that happiness comes from owning things, but do you feel happier after Christmas because you own more stuff or because you spent quality time with your family? I’m not saying don’t buy any presents, but maybe change what you buy. I do not have the answer, just the query as to what Christmas really should be about, and the will to make us consider the planet when we go into overproducing, capitalist Christmastime.