Making Money From Christmas

I cannot say exactly when we planned to get the Christmas tree. All I can remember is that we have been talking about getting the Christmas tree for too long. We would have got it out at the last week of October like our neighbours did (we saw their tree through their windows), but then that would have been ridiculous. It was October for goodness sake! No one displays their Christmas tree in October, no one does. Except my neighbour.

The idea with starting Christmas early is an appealing one as Christmas is only for a day and it goes rather quickly. The build-up to Christmas is perhaps more interesting than Christmas itself. So, having the Christmas tree out makes sense for several reasons. The tree could inspire lessons in literacy, history and religious education.

If we had the Christmas tree out early, we could start the business of decorating the tree (it is an elaborate affair), we could then begin to make shopping lists, make time to wrap up the presents and then patiently wait for Christmas. I know men don’t get worked up about Christmas. I also know that mothers who have little children agonise especially at a time like this because you want Christmas to be special for your kids. You want to create memories your children can hold on to for their lifetimes. But it is a lot of work and I wonder how much of an ordeal Christmas is in other families? Is this modern life at its worst?

Not to be outdone, possibly by parents like myself, Christmas lights are already up in the Dunstable town centre; they have been up since the first week of October. They have on those sharp neon lights that remind you of Christmas and many other things. To be fair, the council could probably argue that those are not Christmas lights, just lights which give visibility. Visibility or not, the bulbs remind me of Christmas and seeing them makes me happy.

Without much ado, we got our tree up (it was the same tree we used last year) and that was when we discovered that there was something missing about the tree. It had shrunk. Somehow, the tree had survived a year in the loft with a part of it missing. The bottom line is that another trip is needed to get a new Christmas tree.

Christmas is originally meant to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into the world. Schools across the world would be hosting Christmas plays, concerts and things like that. Ideally, the focus should be on the Lord. Like most fallen saints, my focus is on how I can get out of this Christmas without getting into debt. How many people are genuinely worried about looming expenses? The other annoying part worth considering is that if one does not buy the right gifts, the gifts might not even be appreciated. Most Christmas gifts end up at recycling units anyway or are thrown/given away. Most of the gifts I got from last Christmas I gave to a cousin who came to visit from Nigeria. She could sell them. I could not care less but I do care when I am the one buying though.

A traditional Christmas like we observed in the good old days consisted of a service at church, a nice meal and then the rest of the day was either spent burning the fat from the food or sleeping. These days, unfortunately, we (myself inclusive) have bought into the commercialisation of Christmas. I cannot believe where I have found myself eight weeks before Christmas. Stressed.

Funny, I don’t remember my parents being stressed for Christmas. We got new shoes, bags and things like that, and we always had lots to eat, but this business of shopping lists and buying things for people is absolutely ridiculous. To be brutally honest, I know I have not included everyone as well in my long list.

In England, many people are still paying up debts they incurred from last Christmas. This impulsion to buy things for all cannot be right. Can it? I think people like me ought to learn a thing or two from our brothers and sisters who live in Nigeria. We should learn that Christmas is about sharing and giving to those who have less than ourselves. We should open up our homes, include additional chairs, and invite those who are lonely especially at holiday times like Christmas to eat with us.

When you have a family, Christmas works well, but for the lonely, elderly and infirm amongst us, Christmas is a difficult time. Perhaps, instead of celebrating Christmas, I could volunteer at a shelter or a soup kitchen. That would make me feel like a saint, but my daughter would probably hate me for ruining Christmas. Perhaps not. We could volunteer and then reflect on how we are good citizens. Perhaps not.

It started with the Christmas tree. I cannot wait to get this Christmas out of the way and then begin the countdown for the next one.

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