Monday, 19 December 2011

The Second Great Trial of Christmas: The Spirit of Christmas

In your dim distant past, somewhere probably is the lingering meaning of the true message of Christmas taught to you through copious of use of tinsel and tea towel headdresses in a Nativity play. No matter how hard you try modern society has thoroughly beaten this well taught lesson out of you like an untimely visit from a group of Anti-Gadaffi rebels. Nowadays your vision of Christmas is most likely to be one of the Utopian visions of the festive season created through films, television, popular culture and advertisement.

Advertisements in particular are guilty for giving you a snap shot of the perfect Christmas without any context or setting. The most talked about one this year has to be the John Lewis advert which performs a surprising trick in which a seemingly impatient brat waiting for Christmas is suddenly turned into a darling sweetheart when it turns out he can’t wait to give a loving gift to his parents. And thereby telling the true meaning of Christmas – that you’re a horrid person if you don’t buy your gifts from John Lewis. Obviously we’ve never seen any context, what if the gift turns out to be a novelty pooing reindeer? That’s less magical, what if he’s got the wrong size and not asked for a gift receipt? Our angelic Christmas has suddenly collapsed in on itself like a vortex sucking all the magic from our lives with the efficiency of a Dyson Airblade.

Elsewhere in advertising land, Iceland seem to suggest that the perfect Christmas should be spent accompanying Stacey Solomon as vast satellites of party food revolve around her like a giant clockwork planetarium, that provides approximately 5,000 nibbles for a pound, leading you to wonder what exactly is in them, and offers similar nutritional value to eating a lump of Plutonium. Littlewoods advertising has attracted record numbers of complaints, as apparently it carries the hidden subversive message that Father Christmas doesn’t exist (clearly a lie children – don’t worry), despite the fact that the advert doesn’t actually say this. Yet no one has complained about the actual message it does convey which is that if mum is worth her salt she’ll buy an horrendous range of overpriced designer tat in order to buy the love of her family and friends and then spend the rest of her life paying for it at an exorbitant rate of interest. A lesson their learnt from the Greek book of fiscal policy. Meanwhile Marks & Spencer, every middle class person’s favourite shop, appears to have struck a Luciferian pact with the devil as an ever changing cast of X Factor misanthropes sings the stores’ wondrous praise in a effort to convince you to buy a melt in the middle chocolate pudding because that is what Little Mix will be doing this year. And the least said about Bruce Forsyth accidentally wandering onto the set of the Morrisons advert probably the better, he thought it was the Strictly Come Dancing wrap party.

Generally none of these adverts really offend me, I’m used to the usual nausea-inducing assault on the senses that is festive commercials, in fairness it’s not that different to the usual nausea-inducing assault on the senses that is commercials during the rest of the year. However I do reserve a certain hatred for one particular style of Christmas advertising. These are the adverts that tell you that unless you buy a specific product not only will you’re Christmas be worse off it will actively be awful. Last year I recall a particularly awful example of such an advertising campaign run by a satellite television provider which said that unless you buy their latest channel package your Christmas will be a disaster ending in a massive row that even the family dog will be embroiled in. Said advert also implied that your Christmas would only occur in grey scale and even your decorations wouldn’t light up, whereas with their latest package the whole family would be happy and your room would be illuminated in a radiant glow – presumably as the family in question have now freed up enough time from rowing that they can actually turn the light switch on. If only the residents of Albert Square could see this warning from history and the EastEnders Christmas Day special might be a whole lot different.

Pathetically soppy as it may sound whatever your religious persuasion is, Christmas should be out spending time with family, friends and loved ones (apparently loved ones can include friends and family – I’m not really an expert in this field) and celebrating how lucky you are to have them as part of your life. Nice as Christmas Trees, turkeys, bulging sacks of presents, the perfect party spread and a XBox 360 under the tree are, all of these should be sideshows to the true event spending time with those who love you – admittedly that sentiment would put the final nail in the High Street coffin and cause Mary Portas to spontaneously explode covering us all in lured orange hair, but it’s important point. Though if you are planning to buy me an XBox 360 or any other gifts/cash amounts please don’t be put off they will be gratefully accepted at the usual address. Thank you very much.