You know that sentence “it’s that time of the year again”?
The one sentence that literally makes no sense at all, because the writer assumes their reader is in complete sync with the societal calendar and by proxy immediately tied to all the specified “holidays” / “important days of the year” etc.
Let’s talk about the C-word. That over the top, snottily “happy” time of the year when people lose the little common sense they have in favour of unnecessary overeating and overspending in all sense of the word. Of course, I’m talking about Christmas.
I’m writing this piece having recently awakened from years of being complacent to the aforementioned “holiday”. I grew up with it so I never had the need to question it. Until I did.
Apparently, 48% of the British population identify themselves as non-religious (Guardian, 2017), but I suspect they haven’t given up the turkey and Christmas gifts, so what are they really celebrating? Do they really play along with it and put up a Christmas tree? What for?
“I grew up with it so I never had the need to question it. Until I did.”
I have discussed this whole “why would you celebrate the birth of Jesus if you are not Catholic?” with friends and colleagues, who pointed out that most people go along with it because it means spending time with the family and so on.
I get where they are coming from but the thing with Christmas as a holiday is that it’s NOT even about spending time with your family. Most people will spend weeks planning menus and buying unnecessary amounts of food, then buying even more, things (gifts and mostly crap) they absolutely do not need simply because they are told they have to. If it were about spending time with the family, you just wouldn’t go through all that.
As a rule of thumb and since becoming more aware of my impact in the world; be it through the food I choose to eat, the trash I produce and the companies and products I support; I always ask myself “do my values align with ⎽⎽⎽⎽?”
By doing that, I can understand whether I truly believe in something or whether it’s just another effective marketing campaign.
Here are some examples:
Do my values align with Christmas? Do my values align with Christianity?
Do my values align with companies in favour of animal cruelty?
Do my values align with the over-consumption of plastics?
Do my values align with the abuse of social media?
“As a rule of thumb, I always ask myself “do my values align with ⎽⎽⎽?”
Asking yourself that question will not only prompt you to actually choose a standpoint but to assess your current situation and whether your actions match your values.
We live our lives to the beat of someone else’s drum. The beat of multinational companies that absolutely do not care for the welfare of anyone but their own pockets and greed. We let other people make decisions for us when we don’t stand up for what we believe in.
Personally, it felt quite liberating to realise I was celebrating something I had no ties to, let alone believed in.
Does society expect me to play the whole Christmas game? Yes.
Will I? Absolutely not. In turn, I will make the last week of the year my own. It will be a time of reflection and solidarity, a time to look at the past year and think about what I can do going forward to be a better person to not only benefit myself and others but the world as a whole.