The run up to Christmas has started and the adverts are already on TV. To say that it starts earlier every year seems like a cliché but it feels true.
When I was child I loved Christmas and had no concept of how much it cost my family, most notably my Mum. I always got what I wanted at Christmas and when I look back I feel kind of guilt and think I was spoilt.
Up until my early thirties I mostly thought anyone who complained about Christmas were Scrooge killjoys, most of all those who spoke out against the over commercialisation of the festive season and the obsession with buying expensive presents for people that permeates Christmas.
I saw them as bossy snobs who looked down at hard working people for spending their money on nice presents for their loved ones and who just begrudged ordinary people having a nice time when they have worked hard all year.
I saw Buy Nothing At Christmas activists labelling people as mindless zombies for indulging in spending sprees at Christmas and as elitist snobs who looked down on working class people for wanting to make Christmas nice for their families.
But now I’m in my 30s my attitude towards Christmas has changed. I don’t hate it but I now despise the over commercialisation and the relentless bombardment of advertising that puts pressure on people to spend money.
I feel this way because I feel sorry for people struggling on low wages and suffering due to benefit sanctions who must find Christmas so difficult when they are struggling to make ends meet all year round and now are under pressure to spend money they do not have on expensive gifts for their families.
The parents on low wages or benefits who barely are able to put food on their children’s plates and keep their children warm let alone afford XBoxes, iPads and other fancy expensive gadgets and face the wave of adverts which tell them their kids’ Christmas will be worthless if they cannot get them these things.
I loath the adverts for online catalogue companies which encourage people to get themselves into debt. They make it seem all so easy and magical and tell people they can have a wonderful Christmas on credit without telling them that they will be paying off for it for months if not for the rest of their lives afterwards.
This leads people to go to predatory pay day loan companies to be able to afford Christmas presents and to pay off catalogue debts which leads them into further debt and with benefit cuts and wages being slashed the likes of Wonga will cash in even more this Christmas.
My hatred of the over commercialisation of Christmas isn’t motivated by snobbery or begrudging people buying presents for their loved ones and having a good time but by worry that ordinary people feel pressured to buy expensive items for each other and the victims of poverty and austerity being made to feel worthless if they cannot take part in the spend spend spend commercialisation Christmas presented to us by rich corporations and advertising.
Austerity and benefit cuts make life hard enough for people all year round without being bombarded by adverts telling them they need to spend loads of money to make Christmas even half acceptable.
It must make so many people so despondent and angry and it’s all for just one day. It’s crazy and it exposes the harshness of capitalism which has made Christmas so hard for so many people.