This is a really beautiful image showing an (idealized) picture of Christmas shopping in the Thirties. Modern shopping isn't quite so glam. You'd have to have the courage of a lion to tackle a Saturday afternoon in Oxford Street. The scrum, the queues to pay, the increasing feeling of panic that you've not bought enough or bought the right gifts, or you've been too mean, too generous, bought a garment too big, too small, bought the wrong scent, the wrong toy. We hadn't even got to Halloween before the Christmas advertising on TV kicked in. Not just buy a toy or clothing, but buy a new sofa, a new dining table, a new bigscreen TV! It's not enough to have presents under the tree now. Apparently you need to overhaul our sitting room too. .... and don't get me started on holly decorated washing up bottles, the so-called air freshners with festive fragrances. I wouldn't be surprised to see bottles of bleach with a Christmassy theme! This got me thinking ..... is it possible to opt out of Christmas? I mean, just say 'no' to it all.
Traditionally, if you weren't religious you could celebrate in a low key way - a slap up dinner and reasonably priced pressies, perhaps reflecting the original pagan idea of a winter celebration. But now that for millions of people there's no real link between the Christmas Message about Jesus and the commercial overkill of December, can you opt out? Say 'no' to Christmas and you get accused of being a scrooge, a miser, a killjoy. The consumer pressure is huge, and this year thousands of people will go into thousands of pounds of debt because they find it impossible to opt out. To say 'this year I can't afford it'. We're constantly told Christmas is about family, but for most people it's about overspending, overeating, about stress, about feeling you're not having as much fun as everyone else. As much fun as the families you see on the telly adverts. Yes, there's Christmas joy. There are carols that bring tears to the eyes, there's glitter and tinsel and shiny baubles to brighten your rooms. It's just - for me - that the taint of commercialism stinks more every year as the adverts get more expensive, the billboards more intrusive, shops stock up for the 'Festive season' in autumn before the kids are back in school. Oh, I don't know ... we need to redefine Christmas, take it back from the retailers, reclaim it as our own. Don't we?