Don’t let presents overwhelm you

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

In our little town of Bury there is a chasm of opinion. There are those who enjoy the festive period, and all that comes with it. And there are those who think the time is never right to don one of those atrociously tacky Christmas sweaters.

So while the lights sparkle amid the starry sky, for me at least there will be no more silent nights, due to the pestilent drone of carol singers.

Bah humbug and all that: is Christmas really what it used to be?

At one point Christmas was about love, family and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and for some it still is. But perhaps for the majority of kids, the season has become about how many presents an obese man - who (let’s not forget) sneaks into your home uninvited – is going to leave behind for you.

When did we make the leap from a Bible story to a red-suited vigilante? The nativity was, in my view, about the cherishing of life and all that comes with it. Christmas shouldn’t be about hoards of children demanding another piece of new-fangled tech and then breaking into tantrum if they don’t get everything they desire.

Of course, it isn’t just the gift recipients that display various forms of greed during the winter period, but also the gift distributors. Big businesses weaponise the festival more and more each year. The majority of companies hike their prices the closer we get to the 25th, which makes life for last-minute shoppers - like me - rather problematic. All of the Toy Retailers Association’s predicted top 12 best selling toys this year are priced at £19.99 or above.

In the end, you have to buy gifts for the people you care about at Christmas. Unless you think you can somehow justify present denial by attempting to explain seasonal demand and its effect on aggregate price levels. Though this normally doesn’t end too well. Partly because macroeconomic theory has never really been the best method for solving emotional fall-out, but mostly because you’d be defying what has arguably become the main convention of the holiday

Maybe we need to develop a better sense of perspective. I’m certain that if, one year, Santa decided not to visit the UK there would be uproar. Many children would define the event as ‘the worst thing ever’ or even ‘the end of the world’. But would it be that bad?

Instead of seeing Christmas as a time to receive, perhaps we should see it simply as an opportunity to give a declaration of our appreciation for those around us. Ultimately, presents should be a small symbol of love, not a badge of rampant materialism.

At this point a cliché is almost unavoidable, but could what really counts at Christmas be the thought?

Maybe we should let all the blatant commercialism pass us by and just cherish our loved ones instead. Then again, that’s probably just as likely as me wearing one of those jumpers.

-- Patrick Gembis is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds