Ah, the snow and the lights and the carols. The chill and frost, it’s all turning into the Christmas we know and love. But aside from the empty boxes of presents piling up by the town centre’s six foot pine tree, can Christmas fulfil a deeper meaning?
Well, firstly, ‘tis the season of anticipation. The build up and advent calendar can make the harsh, nose-cutting winds and seasonal frostbite somewhat bearable, because there’s something brighter and lighter just around the corner. It gives us something to look forward to amongst the winter blues, a light in the distance to gear us towards. Mariah Carey’s golden drops of hope that sparkle through the supermarket aisle gives everything a small sparkle. You start to notice people’s smiles and the small surge of excitement with each Santa statue. Ever since primary school, with the unbeatable colouring activities, turkey school dinners and mid-afternoon screenings of ‘Nativity 2,’ this last leg of December pumps the mid-winter optimism to the max.
Next up in my series of Christmas jingles: don’t dismiss the gifts, let’s debunk some built up Christmas myths. Whilst dismissing these festivities as solely about scouting, buying and giving the perfect gift can be easy, the tradition of gift giving can mean so much more. I think within the last few years or so, as a society, we’ve definitely become more aware of how much emphasis is put on marketing the holidays as a seasonal spend-all-your-money-on-our-new-hoover festivity. This collective awareness, satirised at times with TikToks, reels and memes, can easily go to the other extreme and suck the life out of gifts. Both receiving a present, and giving one, releases dopamine and other ‘feel good’ chemicals. However, it is understandable that this tradition of gift giving can cause stress. Whether financially, especially during the cost of living crisis, or because we are spoiled for choice and want the receiver to have just the right thing, the shenanigans of presents always unbox themselves at this time of the year. The idea of giving a gift indicates a reciprocity, or an expectation of getting something in return, however often stress is alleviated through putting less pressure on desires and endless wishlists. Rather, giving something smaller or handmade, not necessarily of great monetary value, can be easier on both parties.
Finally, the joyous unity of the reindeer headbands and oversized Christmas jumpers. The run up to December 25th brings together communities in such a hopeful and harmonious way. I feel like this extends further in religious communities. Although I’m not Christian myself, going to a church, or even midnight mass is such a beautifully uplifting experience. Hearing the nostalgia of old primary school hymns and seeing the faith of a whole congregation gathered for peace, hope and celebration is pretty restorative. Furthermore, although many other non-religious groups also have opportunities, there are many places of worship which run voluntary projects over the Christmas period. Helping out in all sorts of sectors, from homelessness to food poverty, the season of togetherness and charity isn’t hard to miss.
So, it’s hard to separate the materialistic aspects from the Christmas spirit, to write Christmas off as a capitalistic takeover holiday. Hopefully in this blog I’ve suggested some balance, showing what purpose this festive season can serve for us as individuals and members of a wider community.
AUTHOR Anisha Minocha is studying English and Spanish at the University of St Andrews. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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