The So Called "Joy of Giving"

The So Called “Joy of Giving”

The masses have arrived, lining the pavement as if it were the road of freaking Bethlehem or something. Families are flocking to major department stores – just that little bit earlier with each passing year – to spend their “together time” shopping, coaxed by elaborate displays of moving reindeers.

“Embrace the holiday spirit!” they beckon. “Buy from our glamorous store.”

And we do, having been hypnotised by the glitter and fake snow in their fluorescent windows to believe that the meaning of Christmas is adding extra hype to our retail-therapy.


Countless movies and advertisements show us what our Christmas should look like. Through the power of the media, many families find themselves conforming to these standards of how we should celebrate. So what, now, is the meaning of Christmas? Religion? Togetherness? Or is it just upholding expensive traditions?

Western society has commercialised the actual fuck out of Christmas. Gift-giving is literally forced upon people. Our greedy mouths are shovelled with expectations of lavish gifts, and then with conveniently timed Christmas sales. The corporations have taken control of how we celebrate our holiday periods.

Presents have to appear under the tree because Santa puts them there. We wouldn’t want to disappoint the children… Well I suppose we’d better not tell them that Coca-cola invented their beloved Santa Claus.

That’s right, the image of the modern day Santa originated from Coke’s 1931 “Thirst Knows No Season” campaign. The inspiration, St Nicholas, was a Greek Bishop who used his entire inheritance to help those in need. He became so renowned for his generosity and love of children that after his death, kids received annual gifts in his honour. Thus, the Christmas gift-giving tradition was born.

The obligation to give is no longer about commemoration or charity; now, it’s a marketing tool.

The joy of giving. Come October, these words stalk us on billboards, TV screens, even our own shopping bags to motivate us to shop some more. Don’t spend time or communicate with one another – buy things for them; fuel the consumerist cycle in the name of the holiday spirit. And global Christmas expenditure is rising accordingly.

Take, for example, the seemingly innocent tradition of giving Christmas cards. They’re a convention. An expectation. And they cost up to $10 a pop. They’re not necessarily about sharing a loving message – it has to be done even if you’ve got nothing to say. In fact, they’re often pretty meaningless. We all know the deal:

Dear Uncle Gary,
Merry Christmas, and best wishes for the New Year.
Love, (From? Love? Which is more appropriate???)

That shit is just going to be thrown out in a week. The trees are screaming.

And it’s the same with presents. More often than not, we give gifts for the sake of it, in turn obliging others to do the same. And so the cycle continues. The result is that people end up with crappy trinkets they don’t want – a waste of money and a burden on the recipient. Despite this, it’s unacceptable not to purchase gifts for your family members and friends. At the very least, you must give them a voucher, or slip $50 into their card, so that they may return to the revered shrines of commercialism and spend your money for you.

And if that weren’t enough, prepare to spend even more on showcasing your superior decorating skills and general family kick-assery. Yes, I’m talking about the unusual spectacle that is the annual family e-card photo.

Lavish decorations for obscenely oversized Christmas tree: $200
Santa hat and/or reindeer horns for the Labrador: $30
Grooming job for said Labrador: $60
Grooming of included humans: up to $120pp (for 4-6 people on average)
The satisfaction of knowing that your whole mailing list sees you – accurately or not – as perfectly functional, fun-loving family: priceless.

Don’t get me wrong; I love Christmas. I respect the religious connotations held dear by those who believe. I’m all for togetherness. But Coca-cola fairytales and Boxing-Day sales shouldn’t define the meaning of Christmas. So I’ll smile for obligatory photos; I’ll buy the damned cards – you got me this time, capitalism – but if you think I’m none the wiser to your maleficent scam, you’ve had too much bloody eggnog.