Remember waking up in the wee hours of Christmas morning with a wide grin and creeping to the living room. Checking if the line-up of stockings near the piano are full of goodies. Secretly combing under the Christmas tree for presents and hoping to beat your siblings in ‘i-have-a-biggest-present’ contest. Those happy-days movie reel seems really old and rusty today. Over the past ten years, my perception of this joyous holiday has changed. I relate it to the missing spirit of Christmas innocence.
I’m reminded of my childhood years when I used to write letters to Santa Claus and proudly post it to North Pole. And I was confident that I had been ‘nice’ all year long. It was only when I was 12 that I figured that Santa was too fat to come down our narrow chimney. All the confusion was over, I lost my innocence and my faith in the mythological white beard man.
Years have gone by, but the confusion abounds and Generation Y still head-scratches, as the holiday season begins. Not a lot has changed over time though. The wine, cakes, tree, presents, carols and decorations – everything persists – but with a larger than life approach. However, the concerning transition is your father becoming the real Santa Claus. The beautifully crafted letters to Santa are replaced by a post-it note stuck on dad’s office table, informing him with your preferred laptop colour. Sadly, Santa’s workshop does not manufacture iPods, Blackberrys and Manolo Blahnik’s golden pumps, but dad’s debit card surely does.
The holiday season has been bitten by the nostalgia bug. The memories of; messy baking sessions with nanna and mum, tree decorating afternoons with siblings and cookie eating competitions with cousins; are confined to old family albums. I remember sitting on my dad’s laps, as he played carols on the piano, and singing in my high-pitch voice. The movie marathons with my sister, of our favourite Christmas movies, made me cheery. Traditions and rituals help intertwine these cherished memories into a strong bond. But if the bond is shaken, the balance is lost forever. It feels like we are losing that balance and about to plunge into holiday hell. The place where there neither Rudolf nor mistletoe exist.
Nothing touches our imagination more deeply than those stories that begin with those four magical words, ‘once upon a time’. It feels like Christmas is a fairytale story that is losing its charm with every passing year. Seems like it was ‘once upon a time’ when kids used to be satisfied with their tasselled-handle bike or a coloured-clay set. Gone are the days when simple plastic toys held to our fascination like a cardboard box does for a kitten. The content smiles, on seeing the holiday-special Barbie or the cool metal colours of Hot Wheels, have been lost in childhood. The growing age and mature mind have been littered with high-tech gadgetry. For them, it is their absolute right to have the ownership of a present, which satisfies their choice, on Christmas. The Christmas spirit is a burden for today’s youth – a forceful obligation for them to fulfil. The materialistic world has taken over the cheerful vibe from the holiday. Instead of the baubles, tinsel and snowflake, the sight of a Sony PlayStation 3 enthuses them.
Christmas has become more than just a celebratory festival. It is a green greedy monster that drives us all into mindless consumption. It has become an excuse to have an extravagant feast with the family. It begs the question, where is the ‘Merry’ part of ‘Christmas’?
I chose to leave that question unanswered, only because I’m scared to confront the truth.