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Friday Philosophy – Christmas Cheer and Business Bah-Humbug December 23, 2011

Posted by mwidlake in Friday Philosophy, Private Life.
Tags: , ,

For many, today is the last working day before Christmas and the festive season – So I sincerely wish upon everyone a Merry Christmas.. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, well the intent of my wishes still holds – I hope everyone; whether working or not; religious leanings for, against or indifferent; has an enjoyable few days during whatever end-of-year festives you have.

I’m going to be miserably now. You might want to stop reading here and maybe go to the shops for that last spell of retail hell or some other Christmas tradition. It’s probably best if you do…

You see, despite the best wishes above, generally speaking I am not a big fan of Christmas and have not been for as long as I can remember. It is not the principle of Christmas I am not keen on {I rather like both the religious and secular aspects of the whole thing, especially the seeing-people part like Di and Bri and ringing up old friends}, it is what Business does to it. Like many people, I really object to the bombarding we endure of advertising, selling and down-right commercialist bullying for what seems to be 3 months on the run-up to Christmas. I know, I know, many people make this very same point ad nauseum around this time. What ticks me off the most is that I don’t think it would be an easy thing to change, for the fundamental reason that the businesses that are so set on telling us that Christmas will not be as good as it could be if we don’t buy their food to make us fat/get expensive presents for the kids to break/buy this bottle of smelly stuff so we get more sex/buy this booze cheap, probably for the same reason as the smelly stuff {or to help ignore the lack of sex}/take out a loan to make this Christmas REALLY “special” and you can pay it off for the whole of the rest of the year and be miserable as a result, {pause to catch breath…} as I was saying, any business that sells more stuff as a result of their advertising, no matter how much it annoys other people or adds to the degrading of the whole Christmas experience, will do better than a company that does not. And so will out-compete less tacky, crass and manipulative businesses.

That’s the huge problem with Christmas and other celebratory times. We live in a commercial society and commercial selection pressure means those companies that can squeeze the most out of a situation to sell tat will win. They give not a hoot about if we enjoy ourselves really {we are back to the smelly stuff and booze again, aren’t we?}, it’s profit. Oh, if enjoying ourselves in some way aids them in getting more profit then they won’t object, but it is not in the company mission statement of 99% of companies – and any that it is in are doing it for cynical, commercialist reasons.

So, all successful businesses are Evil and are ruining Christmas for us all {OK, so that’s a bit of a big leap, stay with me….} So, have your revenge!!!

Next year:

  • Don’t buy stuff people probably don’t want. No adult wants 95% of what they get so….get nothing.
  • Tell everyone “I have all the stuff I need, buy yourself something instead – treat yourself on me”. You can buy the stuff you really want from the savings from point 1.
  • Having established the principle of reciprocal meanness above, that’s all that shopping hassle ditched.
  • Get normal food you like {and that does not play merry hell with your digestive system}. Preferably stuff you can freeze or keep a while, so you don’t need to go into the supermarket after Dec 20th.
  • Turn off the TV in December {or at least record everything and skip the adverts}. There is no decent TV in December anyway, it is all being saved up for the end of the month and, heck, even that is pretty awful.
  • Don’t read the paper. Or if you do, if you must, first four pages and last four pages only and scribble over adverts with a felt-tip pen. You’ll get the gist of world events and if your team is winning or losing.
  • That company you work for, that thinks paying you a wage means it owns your soul? It’s Evil, you owe them nothing they are not getting out of you already, so have a nice break at Christmas. {Unless you work at the same place as me, then they will need you to fill in for me as I will be on holiday}.

You will now be more relaxed, less stressed, have more time and generally be a nicer person. Take people to the pub, spend more time with people who like you being around (and this will be easier due to the people who no longer like you as you did not buy them any socks or a rubbish “humorous” golf book). Do things you actually enjoy. This year it is just going to be me, my gorgeous wife and the cat over Christmas and Boxing Day. The cat is really happy about this as we both like scratching the cat’s ears.

I might invite some neighbours over. They won’t come as they have to fulfil their awful Christmas Obligations – but they will like the fact they were invited. Heck, if they do turn up I’ll be in such a fine, happy mood I will even be nice to them.

Go and walk the hills of Mid Wales with your brother and relax.



1. chris - December 23, 2011

That’s a refreshing point of view that I can definitely identify with. Best thing I’ve read so far today. I wish more people would give up on the idea that there is some universal script that everyone should be reading from and acting out. It’s OK to just relax, be thankful and pass on attempting to meet any standard of Christmas expectations.

2. Debra Lilley - December 23, 2011

like, like, like exactly how I feel. This year just my daughter and me, no presents we are hitting the sales next week. Have a tree but just for her.

Midnight Service, Carols by Candlelight, these are the things that mean Christmas to me

3. Wolfgang Breitling - December 23, 2011

Martin ( Woodlouse 🙂 ), I enjoy reading your posts and this one is no different.
I have never been one for those celebratory events, Birthday-Christmas-Valentines-you-name-it. I actually don’t have any present for my wife this Christmas ( or last’s ) nor she for me. I don’t buy her something/anything because it is such-and-such event ( OK, I had her flowers sent for our anniversary as I was at UKOUG at the time ), I buy it when I or we see something she likes. With our Children we arranged this year that we not each give everyone but we drew. I have something for my son-in-law ( he told me what he wanted ), he gives to my son ( I believe with the same directive ) and my son gives me something ( I told him I wanted ). Since we all stayed in the same price band we essentially did the same as you suggested, just a bit more convoluted.
From early December on I avoid malls like the plague and watch even less TV during October ( only senseless gory movies because of Halloween ) and December ( it’s a good movie and I like James Stewart, but how often can you see “It’s a wonderful Life”? ) than usual.
For December there is UKOUG ( with a nod to Debra and Lisa ) and the visit with German relatives before and after which takes me away from all this Christmas insanity for a bit. Well, in Germany I go to the Christmas markets and have some Glühwein, but for me this is different ( some nostalgia and perhaps senility creeping in). This year I bought a little “dress doll” for my granddaughter ( 3ys ) for about 3 Euro at one of the stands. It’s a flat piece of wood with some holes, pieces of of felt to represent clothes with matching holes and some string to lace it together. So simple but a better toy than all these expensive electronic gadgets. I watched her as she concentrated intently on lining up the holes and thread the string through to dress the doll. Priceless

Joyful holidays and a happy and healthy New Year to everybody.

mwidlake - December 23, 2011

Thank you Wolfgang.

When I give presents I tend to try and give things I absolutely know the other person wants – or something utterly trivial and silly that I hope will amuse them. Sue and I tend to now not bother or we both chose something we happen to want. After all, we long ago reached the point where we could buy the small things we want and we negotiate/chose together the big things.

If I ever just buy Sue flowers or chocolates – she instantly wants to know what I did wrong 🙂

That dress doll sounds like a perfect gift for a small child. I’ll make a little prediction. She’ll still have it in 5 years. She won’t have the plastic, electronic things she is given this year.

Mr Woodlouse 🙂

4. Narendra - December 25, 2011


I smell “anti-capitalism” here…were you, by any chance, at the protest at St. Paul in London? 🙂
Just kidding. I liked Debra’s comments. Commercial interests tend to overshadow festival spirits.
Coincidently, I watched “Wall Street” movie last night (OK, I mean really late last night!). It is excellent.
I especially liked the part where Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) delivers a speech in the
meeting of Shareholders of a company that he is about to take over. He says something like
“Greed, in all its forms, is good.It is the greed for wealth, knowledge that advances mankind”.
Love that (even though I do not agree…).
I know it is little late but Merry X’Mas !!!

5. Tony Sleight - December 26, 2011

This year, I did not buy my wife anything, nor, did she for me. We did however, make a small concession for the children, they had some small gifts We thought the best present we could have is a holiday in March. So that’s the choice we made. We saved hard, and worked hard and paid for the holiday by November. It’s hard to pull away from the competitive present buying though, there was still the pull of advertising tempting us all through December!
I whole heartedly agree with the sentiment in your post.

6. David Harper - January 5, 2012

You’re right about the dreadful Christmas TV, but be thankful you don’t have to watch American TV instead. It’s as dire as British TV, but with blaring, shouty adverts every five minutes.

This Christmas, we were treated to repeated showings of an ad for a laxative which featured a graphic CGI simulation of exactly how the product got things moving through the lower intestines. Just the kind of thing that you don’t want to see, just before sitting down to Christmas dinner 🙂

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