Christmas Songs, really?!

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It’s like a switch is thrown in the brains of every managing director, CEO, shop owner and store manager. November 1st is go time for Christmas!

Cue festive streamers, signs, lights and even music. The most wonderful time of the year is now the most wonderful two months of the year (and now Christmas is bleeding into October too, with supermarkets and shops getting their promotions and deals on the shelves, complete with wrapped presents and pretty, gold red and green tinsel). When did this happen???

It’s been the case for years of course. We’ve become obsessed with the bargains and sales that drive the build up to the big day, unable to resist the assault on our senses. Here in the UK, the phenomenon that is Black Friday is starting to take hold more and more, and in the USA, it is a full-fledged day of absolute pandemonium (ironically taking place the day after Thanksgiving).

To me, Christmas should be a family affair. My fondest Christmas memories are of the gathering of my family clan, introducing my wife to the idea of going to a pub on Christmas Day, and of course, the look of absolute wonder and joy on my daughter’s face when she spots the presents under the tree. Whether or religious or not, Christmas should always be about spending time in the company of people you love, and about making your loved ones smile.

Now, I am hardly adverse to buying presents and like anyone, I enjoy receiving gifts. What I resent is the steady transformation of Christmas from a special, magical family occasion, into a corporate money-making exercise, with our eyes and ears bombarded (earlier and earlier every year) with festive songs in shops, adverts on TV, and leaflets through the post. Kids in particular will look at all the toys and gadgets being advertised and will work themselves into a frenzy, bubbling over with excitement for two months, placing merciless pressure on parents to treat them. The parents also have to deal with hyperactive kids more or less bouncing off the walls in anticipation of the 25th December.

It isn’t fair on the kids, or the parents.

There’s also intense pressure on the employees of retailers. Having worked in retail, I have often had to work both Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, not usually getting home till quite late on Christmas Eve, as I’ve been rushing around trying to get the store ready for the Boxing Day offers (and naturally, there is a lot of work to do). The people at the top seem to think the people at the bottom have nothing to do at Christmas, other than work to the bone at their behest.

Mind you, a lot of retailers (my former employers in particular) regard their staff as little more than faceless numbers anyway, doing little to encourage loyalty and showing very little either. It hardly surprises me that they see employees as a means to an end, and they probably resent letting them take Christmas Day off!

So to recap. Christmas starts too early. It’s placing enormous pressure on parents and kids alike. It burdens employees of big retailers with the expectation that work comes before family, even at Christmas. What should be a wonderful time for families to gather has become a huge marketing machine. I say Christmas needs to be reclaimed! Make it a family occasion once again. No Christmas decorations (and especially no music!) until 1st December! If a store absolutely must be open on Christmas Eve, it should close at 4, no later. Who is with me???

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