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Christmas and Commercialisation

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      11.12.2012 22:32
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      Don't forget the batteries, Santa!

      Does Christmas start too early? Santa Claus Arctic Circle 96930 Rovaniemi Finland Dear Santa, Whenever I hear the rhythmic pulse of a myriad of bells my heart goes racing, not in a starry-eyed glee of anticipation but in an 'I'm going insane. Get me out of ere!' manner. This starts in mid November Santa! I half expect Ant and Dec to 'Deck the Hall (s)' with mini pizzas - sponsored by Iceland in late November! I get W H Smith snow-flake adverts telling me about 'Nigella's Treats' all in a book that should be on the top shelf of a Newsagents - 'This is Christmas food porn!' And it's 'nine and a half days' till December Santa!' Beauticians in shopping centres grasp at your hand and spontaneously polish your little finger nail and in one professional swipe the nail is acrylic cased - "Now Sir, doesn't that look good; have you bought the 'ladies' in your life presents yet?" - "It's still November!" I reply. "For sanity sake, I don't think about it till December". Santa, consumerism is determined to prolong my agony - the system employs glittery 'corporate milking maids' in a fingernail polishing seduction ritual designed specifically to lighten my wallet. I spent an embarrassing three days explaining my little finger was accosted by an acrylic polisher - she was trying to shake the Partridge from the Pear Tree - it wasn't fruitful for her. Santa, the 'corporate milking maids' are using Christmas as an excuse to molest little fingernails. This is not what Lord Pierpont had in mind when he composed 'Jingle Bells' in 1857. Christmas bells jingles epitomizes coinage in a retail outlet All purposefully designed for you to think about spending. The rhythmic 'bell pulse' is the heart-beat for the 'festival of commerce' - which caters for 33% of annual retail profits as a norm to get the 'lords -a- leaping'. Even the name 'Bing' has a ring to it - now known as 'Bling' - a synonym to diamonds - 'A girl's best friend'. 'Bing' and 'Wizard'- are Christmas Royalty machines. Madonna her namesake obviously was not named Madonna on religious grounds considering she is a 'Material Girl' - hence, where the premised was born for a generation of material girls - did they have any choice, nor could a 'Papa do any preaching?' So consumerism it was, Santa! Consumerism breeds consumerism and when the 'festival of commerce' embraces us with tinsel styled bunting and a month long license to become Billy Bunters, we forget him; the child in a manger, 'no crib for his bed'- that breaches 'Health and Safety' guidelines; being in a cattle shed with cattle lowing resembling four-legged midwives musing over the newborn Jesus Christ - the birth of Christianity resided in humbling environs. A time when 'Three Kings' were mere marathon walkers, following a bright star without the aid of taxpaying transportation - "A sleigh was out of the question, hey Santa - 'wiv' the terrain having being desert an all?" - 'No rain deer!' Some things don't change, desserts and ill-mannered Inn-keepers (both sobering dry) - In those days you were not plagued by two Geordies on the telly ordering you to call and vote for celebrities to eat Kangaroo anuses, the term celebrities: are morons who think they're media Gods - these parasites feed off media exposure and sell their souls to commercialisation and then complain if the commercial animal bites their anus. Consumerism biting back - 'dog eat dog' - 'Not like you Santa, you do it all in one nights work. Incredible time-management - no frills or furbelows' - the chances of Christmas consumerism following your tail-wind Santa is zero. Capitalism rules, there is no alternative - commerce erodes the true meaning of Christmas. Geldoff and Migure's (Band Aid) 'Do they know it's Christmas' ballad is the driving force behind the modern world buying frenzy - a true force of festive commerce rolled into one song. The fact the initial concept was to aid starving Africans' on release in 1984 - excluding twenty eight years of royalties since, fills me with 'dreaded fear' for Christianity. 'Clanging chimes of doom' - never a truer lyric has been written in reference to the Christian festival. We're at a stage now Christianity is amalgamated so tightly with capitalism, it's hard to distinguish one from the other. Music's association with buying trends is as powerful as the force of nature - subconsciously the sounds flirts with our psyche - reminds us that holiday season is nearing - results in subliminally affecting our shopping habits, in regards to quantity and artificially creating a void from responsibility - i.e. spend too much. 'I hasten a guess Santa, that you've got a keen eye on the Euro currency rate in Lapland, Finland; having been once the most expensive nation in the 1990s'. This is not the consumers fault, (yet, we've still got to pay for it) - however, this highlights the power of sound ambiance. No-being is immune to these kinds of consumer tricks; even the most unfazed of individuals will find themselves humming to themselves. 'Mud's' (Lonely this Christmas) tweaks my voice-box curiosity somewhat, and in doing so, I've made some un-wise purchases - chocolate gateau and harden foot-ware - Gene Autry has a lot to answer too, with his cheeky chipmunk vocals accompanying tambourine bells and reindeer clopping in 'Frosty the Snowman'. Known as the 'Singin Cowboy' - Autry is guilty in providing the Christmas ambient cherry upon the glittery department store decorated cake - This is too much of a honey-pot for women who shop while their men drop. 'You can identify with that analogy Santa can't you? Flying around, head in the clouds, dropping down chimneys, setting the SatNav, confirming destinations, clocking up an unprecedented amount of air-miles. I'll be following you online again this year, as always. At least Christianity has one element of truth about it Santa, and that's you, Sire. I wish we British could learn from your work ethic Santa and embark on Christmas on December 1st and not earlier. Wishful thinking eh!' Regards, A Believa

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        20.01.2010 22:30
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        A pathetic charade

        Christmas and commercialisation have got really out of hand - and I don't think you necessarily need to be religious or Christian to notice this - but honestly, how far removed from the actual reason we celebrate Christmas have things got! At the very least, it should be a time for families and friends to be together, goodwill to all men, women and children and peace on Earth. Last year the commercialisation got to me big time as our daughter died earlier in the year and more than ever we realised what it is truly all about. I am not discounting Santa and it is a time for children, but not just children. It's a time for everyone to be together, to feast, enjoy each other's company and share. It is not a time to wander round shops grumpily fretting because you haven't got a clue what to buy Great Auntie Gertrude (after all she always knits you a hideous reindeer jumper). It is also not a time for shops to start selling calendars in August. Nor is it a time for car parks to be jam packed with road raging adults. Don't even get me started on the pathertic panic buying charades at the checkouts as soon as the 1st December arrives. We really need to get a grip and get some perspective. The only people laughing are the supermarkets and tinsel makers running all the way to the bank...

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          21.12.2008 11:13
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          Time off work..

          Most of you will know that the original Santa Claus is supposed to be dressed in green and called St Nikolaus, but not as many of you will know that the old man with the white beard, adorned in red and white only became that after Coca Cola dressed him in those colors for their magazine and newspaper commercials in the 1930s, the ultimate piece of Christmas commercialism. In fact Coca Cola could patent the new Santa if they so choose, their grandiose TV ads and bank of lawyers suggesting they may well do one day. And we know what product Chris Pringle would be plugging if he had a good lawyer! But Christmas is not for the multinationals but for kids and we should do everything we can do make it magical for them, unless the kid isn't yours and you give him Christmas sweets or something on the public highs street for some Christmas cheer and their parents are nearby...Don't do that. What ever the rather silly and wispy Arch Bishop of Canterbury says about rejecting consumerism and getting back to basics by being friendly to your fellow human beings at Christmas you will be punched by the parents if you go near their kids. LoL! They say in South America that countries that don't take care of their young or old at Christmas are condemned to death. In Northampton the Christmas spirit is the drinking of lots of it, and that's about it, single mums dressed as skimpy Santa's and any snow that falls over the holidays likely to be tinged with urine yellow and blood red in the high street come chucking out time. The local council has also got into that miserly spirit of things and has decided to cut back on the decorations this year, deciding to buy 18ft synthetic trees instead of the traditional 20 ft real spruces we have always had. These plastic trees cost us £18 grand for the three where as the traditional ones were less than £200 each. No doubt the councilor who signed the deal will be seeing two grand of that on his plastic. They have also cut back on the traditional over-hanging lights and replaced them with those tiny clear white nets of bulbs you get in foreign cities, which are rather stylish but there isn't many of them for a town that's anything but stylish. Northampton's Christmas is anything but commercial. I'm sure they could have tried harder and got some local businesses to chip and come up with some sort of sponsorship deal. I don't mind is 'Jeff's Coaches' is emblazoned over the trees in fairy lights tinsel. Christmas to me is time off work and lots of smelly family farting and over indulgence in the same old food and party games. GB just doesn't do Christmas well. Right there are my 150 words and as there are no crowns to be had on speaker's corner anymore I'll take me 50p and Ill clear off! Na! I couldn't do that, however hard dooyoo tries to put us off this wonderful section that brings most people to dooyoo and so keeps it viable (the campaign starts here). So anyhow, back to consumerism. We are in this 'credit crunch' pickle because we buy too much cr*p with too much credit, Christmas, the alter of that particular religion, our heads held under the holy water in the font if we don't buy cr*p. But it f we don't buy cr*p then people get laid off and we have no economy. It's a tough one. Chinas whole boom has based on making stuff no one actually needs in China, the stuff they buy all having 'Made in Taiwan' stamped on it! To make us buy that cr*p the 'man' uses 'advertising', the skilful art of making us all feel inadequate, especially this time of the year. First they create gaps in our lives that are usually not there, then try to sell us the impossible dream to fill those gaps with that cr*p! As you know I'm not into brands so my Christmas shopping is based on asking what the people I'm buying for actually want. Guys can do their Christmas shopping in about five hours on Christmas Eve and still have time for a beer. They tell me and I get it. Simple! If they don't then it's a surprise 'gift' time, and no one likes surprises at Christmas. We want Christmas presents, not the dreaded Christmas gift. Last year my sister bought me black n white Dads Army video tape! Women, of course, take for ever to shop, mums Christmas shop usually beginning in January. My mum even bought some Christmas matches from the German market in Birmingham last week so she doesn't burn her fingers lighting the candles on the dinner table. She hadn't used last year's long matches yet. Any excuse! Women get bored easy and shopping is how they fill their time. Because women shop till they drop they have everything they need (and don't need) and so I never know what to buy them. Like I said in a previous review here, 70% of all purchases on the planet are made by women. One third of them they never use, like three inch long Christmas matches... Where Christmas is at its most cynical is in the TV commercials and in the shops were parents are put under pressure to buy the big ticket items like game consuls and the must have toy. The suppliers deliberately make those toys hard to get to pump the hype and then you have the sad sight of people queuing all night outside department stores to get the latest CD or video game that they will be chucking in the bin this time next year. But their kids have to have them because the man on the telly said so. And if dads don't get them they become those rather pathetic men we blokes are stereotyped in those TV adverts (think BT bloke). Well, I would like to wish Merry Christmas to all on dooyoo (accept the ones you guys probably don't want to either) and a special Happy New Year to all the girls here who have tolerated my cheeky comments. As I'm not allowed to call you babe anymore, yet the member who tops the all-time speaker's corner list is allowed to call the Muslims the 'Nazis of Europe', I hope Santa is more sympathetic and has a few more speakers corner crowns for us in his sack for those that have worked really hard this year for dooyoo come the 25th.

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            17.12.2003 15:16
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            Lead us not into temptation. A line from the lords prayer. Somewhat apt now that the Christmas season looms over us once more. Having watched as the shops in the local centre hurry to take down the pumpkins and masks that have adorned their shop windows for that last few months, only to see them replaced the very next day with a bold, yet garish Christmas theme, I am amazed at how soon we are hurried from one season to the other. Let's face it, get this one out of the way and the chocolate eggs that herald the coming of Easter will be back in the windows again. It's a commercial world we live in, that's for sure, but who's fault is that? Is it the advertisers, who constantly brainwash us with the newest products and the latest gadgets? Would you blame the media who shove the rich and famous down our throats on a daily basis, showing us what we could have if we were rich enough? Is someone to blame? Have things changed that much? I sat on a bus the other day and heard an elderly couple talking. They were discussing the amount of presents they intended to buy for their grandchildren and after moaning about the price of everything they came out with that age old saying......It wouldn't have happened in my day. We would have been grateful for what we got. It got me thinking about my own children and the huge Christmas lists they had written a month earlier. It got me wondering whether my children were less grateful than we were as children. I remember as a girl the thrill of Christmas morning, rushing down the stairs to dive upon the pile of presents in the corner of the room with my name on it. I was, and still am, the sort of person who loves Christmas for it's feel. I used to love the fact that dad didn't have to go to work and that the shops didn't open and the milkman always brought enough milk to feed the whole street the day before because he had the next couple of days off. I l oved the smells from the kitchen and the fact that for once you were allowed to eat chocolate before your breakfast. I loved the fact that mother never moaned about the mess in the living room, even though it was piled high with wrapping paper and empty boxes. I loved the carol concerts and the special Christmas cartoons that used to start really early in the morning, so even though you had dived out of bed at a ridiculously early time, there was something to leave on the TV in the background. I loved the visitors that popped in unexpected. People who had really made an effort to come and see everyone. I loved the laughter as many of the adults had a little too much to drink and sang along to silly songs and hugged us and wished us Merry Christmas a hundred times. I think I loved it most because it was a happy time. I sat with the children this evening and an advertisement came on the television, you know, one of those 'You haven't done this one yet, but why don't you start paying for next years now' kind of ad. One of the kids groaned and when I asked them why, they replied that it was too early for such ads and "We haven't even got this one over yet!" It made me wonder, hearing him repeat a phrase that I used often when I saw the same advert, what I was teaching my children about Christmas. I mean, the things that I do, the things that I comment on are shaping the way my kids see Christmas, from an adults point of view. We sat together and I initiated a conversation about Christmas by asking them what they like best about it. Of course presents was one of the first things that was said. They are children, it's understandable, but then they talked of many of the things that I remembered and loved from when I was a girl. The sights, the smells. My daughter talked about the carols that were sang and then she said that sometimes on Christmas Eve and Christmas day the carols make her want to cry because they are so beautiful and make her feel so sentimental. I had to smile because often they have the same effect on me. My son said he loved the Christmas dinner, with all the trimmings. He told me I made the best Christmas dinner in the world and again I smiled as I remember saying the same thing to my mother, many years ago. It made me realise that although I seemed to thinks so sometimes, the presents weren't everything to the children. They even remembered who's turn it was to put the fairy on the top of the tree this year. So what makes it so different? Why do people see Christmas so differently now? When it comes to Christmas is there a generation gap? No, I don't think so. I think it all comes back to this commercial issue. The advertisements and the media are a constant reminder to us of the cost of Christmas. I think in the times before advertising became so prominent, people still 'kept up with the Jone's' so to speak. It was customary to buy as much as you could afford at Christmas, but I think in most cases this was because it felt good to make Christmas special for the kids. I know I would question whether I had bought the right gifts if my children didn't want to show them off when friends came round. You only have to remember comparing presses on the first day back at school to know that nothing has really changed in that area and let's face it, what we had then might not have seemed the same when compared to what the kids are getting now but I bet you if you ask your parents, they still spent every last penny getting you whatever was new on the market the way we do for our children now. Go back even further. Think of the father that stood for hours making the dolls house or the sled that would delight his child on Christmas morning. Do you think the effort meant less to his child than ours now means to our own children? No, I don't think so. I don't think that the effort I make to make my kids happy at Christmas is any less either. We all do, or did, what we can to make it special and I think there is no generation gap in that. It's something that has happened for generations. There is so much more scope, so many more toy's to choose from now, but in twenty years time the computers and DVDs that we buy now are probably going to look as trivial as the Space hoppers and Chopper bikes that we coveted back then but I bet you parents will still be buying whatever's fashionable, even if they have to save for months for it, as we all often do. I don't think we will ever stop trying to do the best for our kids, or trying to make them happy. It would be a sad world if we did. I think what I am trying to say is that if you look under all the expensive looking toys, and fancy wrapping paper, things aren't that different than they were many years ago, we just do what we can with what we have, just like the generations before us. They didn't have the shops that we have or many of the toys available today. I bet you that there would still have been parents scrimping and saving to buy them for their children if there had been, for the same reasons we do and will continue to do, because there is nothing on this earth as beautiful as the smile of a happy child on Christmas morning. I do think there is one major difference between Christmas for this generation and Christmas for ours and that is that with there being so much more media access and such a build up to Christmas, our children are more aware maybe of the financial burden that it puts upon us. I think we have to remember to try and keep it special for the kids. I don't want my children to remember the dark circles around my eyes as I struggled to make everything just right, or the hours I have spent trying to work out what we can and can't afford this year. I certainly don't want the kids to feel guilty for what they have rec eived. I want them to remember Christmas as a happy time, when we had fun and ate too much. Please remember that the presents aren't the only thing that make Christmas the special time it is. Thanks for reading.

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              04.01.2002 23:45
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              I work for a large department store. Until I started working for the store I did not realise how commercialised Christmas was. The stock room was filling up with Christmas fare in October, and we had to fit it in somewhere. Shelves were moved and every nook and cranny was opened up to fill with Christmas fare. It was Sell sell sell, as far as the bosses were concerned. What they forgot to ask was. "Did the customers want it all out that early?" It was all about making money at the end of the day and not neccessary what the customers wanted. Some of our customers especially the elderly ones, were very annoyed that our shelves were full of Christmas fare so early, they would have prefered if we had wait. But companies have targets to meet, and bonuses to get. So does the customer really matter when Christmas being so commercialised? Have we forgotten what it is all about? I think it has, and we have really forgotten.

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                02.01.2002 02:55
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                • "lot of hassle"

                Was it all worth it? Snow, presents, children getting excited, lots of eating drinking (and consequently throwing up), office parties, pantomime and last minute shopping. Tree, crackers, cards, wrapping paper, the list goes on and on. Yes, it’s that silly season again – Christmas. But what is it all about really? Christmas is not just a religious festival anymore, where Christians rejoice the birth of Jesus Christ, and young children perform in school nativity’s, just so many a parent can take their camcorder along to get those few moments of his/her child’s fame on tape, to play back in years to come just for sheer embarrassment. I like to refer to it as the silly season. Or should it be referred to as the “make lots of money and go mad season”? Every year it is the same. No I’m not being cynical, and I’ll never be a religious fanatic. Those of you who have read any of my ops know that I say what I feel to be true, rightly or wrongly. What I am about to write is not so much an opinion, maybe more of an acute observation of people generally at this time of year. And I don’t count myself exempt from any of this madness. Maybe that’s why I’m writing this. Christmas is no longer a “special” time of year, as all those adverts would have us believe. Each year we know that December is only 12 months away. Each year millions of us run around like blue-arsed flies trying to pick up those last minute tights for granny, or a card for some relative in New Zealand who you never speak to 11 months of the year, then hope that the card arrives in time (whilst posting it on Christmas Eve!). Buying a turkey the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, then vowing in January never to eat turkey again! The retailers absolutely love it. It’s a license to print money effectively. Late night shopping for a few weeks, with some high street retailers even having th e audacity to open on Christmas Day/Boxing Day for “ a few dollars more”. A recent survey in the news stated that the average consumer will spend between £500 - £1000 over the Christmas period. Thank you very much says the retailers. Thank you very much says the banks/credit card companies. It’s all about the money. So what else do we have at this wonderful time of year? After all the running around last minute shopping on Christmas Eve, now what? It’s the holiday entertainment folks! Two weeks of pure crap on television. Occasionally, BBC/ITV will put something decent to watch, but this is rare. Same old drivel each year – Sound of Music, Wizard Of Oz, etc etc …… It’s the time of year where channel providers make money from throwing out countless repeats knowing full well most people will be at home unable to move due to over-eating and alcohol consumption. The other alternatives? Buy a satellite dish or some other similar medium (more money). Or go and see a pantomime, featuring acting has-beens in need of some extra cash – again more money. In between all of this over-indulgence, spending money we haven’t got (then pleading with the bank manager in January for more time to repay to overdraft!) we have the standard office parties. I freely admit these can be quite fun most of the time. Nothing like finding your best mate snogging the boss only to find she fires him the next day! That’s NOT going to get you promoted! Then there is the obligatory office rumours flying around for weeks on end afterwards. Much fun can be had from this, provided it’s not you on the end of accusations. And don’t forget the pre-determined hangover for those of you who drink! So what does it all mean? In a nutshell, Christmas has become a much over-commercialised, money-making scam for the retailers, and a licence for the general public to do things that for 11 months a ye ar they would not even dream of. Please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Christmas a hell of a lot like most people do. I enjoy the drinking, eating, partying, even trying snog one of the office girls I’ve had my eye on all year (told you it was silly season!), just like the rest of us. I think that somewhere along the way the enjoyment factor has been lost in it all. Is over-indulgence fun? Is all the rushing around fun? Children love it of course, and so they should, for they one day will become adults, running around on Christmas Eve for last minute presents. I have lots of friends with children and the look on their face on Christmas Day is a joy to watch. It does make the whole thing worth while. Maybe we are all just big kids underneath, hence the indulgence over the festive period. It’s the commercialisation of it all that ruins it. Shops entice us, make us spend money willy-nilly. It’s like one great big marketing ploy, engineered to make money.money, money. What a shame. But we’re only human, aren’t we? Let’s enjoy it for what it really is. A time for spending with friends and family, letting our hair down for a few days and unwinding. Christmas is for everyone, not just children or those of you with a religious slant. Is this op an opinion of an idealist? Your comments would be greatly appreciated. Here’s to a prosperous 2002 Paul (*** my apologies for the lateness in submitting this review ….. I’ve been kind of busy!***)

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                  24.12.2001 03:54
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                  I wish an outline had been given on what I could/should write about on here, as that'd make it easier, but atleast it makes it all open. A streamed ramble. The simple way I see it, and I'm sure as countless many people see it is that there's two types of Christmas. Some celebrate one, and some both. Religious, and/or because it's just in the whole country's atmopshere. Britain's predominant festive celebration is Christmas, so whether you're religious and a Christian or not doesn't mean that you're excluded. Through commercialisation it's become an unescapbable event for everybody in some way (even the ill and lonely unfortunately). And rightly so, as all major events are meant to be universally exclusive in any country. And if the umbrella of commercialism brings people together, then it's better than not having it. It's a time when purity can be forgotten, or at the least not minded. Religious patriotism would probably be more dangerous than the TM. Commercialism has it's scum, but it has it's certain benefits over the period and that's what I'd not like to defract from in this op. Christmas has nothing to do with Xmas trees, presents and all that lark, that's what has been added through history. Shopping, televisions etc. They all exist as a framework over the event of Christmas. It's an extra layer over the real religious reason, and is also the only layer for those who aren't into it. We're living in modern time, and being a pure religious follower isn't for most and even those who are the 'purest' have to bare or tolerate the many angles that Christmas grown. Basically, Christmas, Eid, Chanukka, Holi - whatever the dominant festive period is in any country, it's there to serve as a union to everybody, and something more to the true followers. In this way it's a true celebratory period from any angle, almo st. You shouldn't (and does anybody?) have to worry about flashing your plastic after a prayer or not doing one without the other. The companies at this time want to exploit us, and we're glad of the fact, so it works both ways. It can also boost economy, good spirit and there's the voluntary side which can only help those in need and keep nothing for itself. Feeding the devil (in moderation) keeps his belly full, and away from division of universal goodwill at anytime, and right now at Christmas. Have a good one, and a happy New Year!

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                    22.12.2001 15:51
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                    I can't stand to hear people moaning about how commercialised Christmas has become. To me the only reason someone should not enjoy the festivities and glitz is if it reminds them of a loved one lost at Christmas. Any other excuse is just sour grapes. We need reminders at various points in the year to get our priorities in order and keep our spirits up. Those who are religious need christmas to reaffirm their reasons to believe and make their resolutions to attend church more frequently in the new year. Others need it as a nudge to get them to think about how much they appreciate friends and family. The process of choosing presents for others makes us think about them; what it is that we like about them and what their tastes and ways of life really are. That's why we either get them a serious, useful or romantic token, or a winged hat that plays god save the queen. Imagine the grimness of winter without the glow of shop windows, rich with the promise of celebration and warmth up ahead. I'd go mad with boredom just waiting for the weather to either get on with it and snow, or cheer up and fast forward to spring - if it wasn't for this massive present giving, champagne swigging distraction! Who can honestly say they'd remember to give those thoughful gestures of gifts without a date set to have them bought by! There's Christmas in December, Valentines day in Feb, Spring round the corner, my birthday in summer (thought I'd slip that one in) but otherwise it's just too nice a season to need a pick me up - and then orange glowy autumn - lovely. It's no accident that these events have been bookmarked for centuries to bring us full circle - always looking forward to something. They're all optional, pick and choose your favourite. But imagine the state the economy would be in if we didn't support it with regular splurges of card buying and present givi ng? We'd be ruined! And there'd be no sales, ladies! So, are we all agreed? Christmas, commercialism, and all that it brings with it - is fine and dandy and welcome to fill the shops in miserable October if that's what it takes to cheer us moaning brits up. And it helps employment - I know it's the only time of year that I'm guarenteed a job, even if it is shopwork! Three cheers for Christmas!! Hip hip!...

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                      20.12.2001 05:38
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                      Its a funny old category this because who can even remember a chrismas without some form of commercialisation. Not me I can remember the ads when I was a kid. Only thing is the prices seem to be going up a lot more now for what some things are made out of and their quality It is hard to belive and verges on the scandelous for some items. The thing is though if we were not buyiong these things as fast as we were then why would they be competing to have the next whats hot and whats not for our kids. So in a way we only help contribute but the way that some advertising goes now we have our privacy invaded more than ever. With the internet there are banners, pop-ups and ads everywhere you look and now they use our mobile phones by trying to sell us wap to get further ads in our faces or send text messages to our phones. At Christmas though the amount that we see and recieve can rise dramaticaly the closer we get to the 25th. Maybe we should save a bit cash this year and wait for the january sales and buy a load of stuff cheaper for gifts for next year. Sounds a good idea but next year there will be something new and exciting out to tempt our kids and this years stuff will be old news. Well the problem nowadays is remembering just what the true meaning of Christmas is. Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all men. It's meant to be somewhere along those lines and whats this Christmas spirit. If shops and advertisers had us believe what they wanted then they'd have us thinking that it's a time to spend as much of our cash as we can. Why do I say this because we start seeing the ads for new toys start multiplying on tv as early as September/October. Still plenty of time to go nut they like to start early. Thats when we start seeing the hugely overpriced toys coming out or special releases. All designed to lighten the weight of our pockets. To me anyway Christmas time is a time that you are meant to enjoy with friends and family. Yes I buy gifts but you will not catch me falling into extra debt or anything to get some presents. However some people do as shops are only too free to offer the choices of buying stuff on credit, not too mention mail order and people tend to feel a bit pressured into buying more at this time of year. This may sound great to those on low incomes but you have to pay for this stuff sometime. I do not even tell people things that I want for christmas as I appreciate whatever gifts that I get because someone has went to the trouble to get that gift for you. But what does giving gifts have with Christmas itself, it is meant to represent the gifts given by the three wise men. Shops and retailers would like to forget this side as they are only interested in our cash. Strange how the ads in windows get bigger and bolder at this time of year if they dont want to just further commersialise Christmas. It just helps take away some of the enjoyment of the holidays especially when the salesmen constantly chase you around the shops. It's hard to find a shop where you can just browse without having that annoying question "is there anything i can help you with" . This after it happens to often only makes me feel like walking out because I like to browse and take time before I buy anything. I think that we need to turn the clocks back a bit to when people appreciated whatever they got big or small. Try to recapture the times where seasonal goodwill was felt more, where Christmas was celebrated for the season itself and not sales or invoicing. After all look at what our grandparents used to get and that was generally little but they truly appreciated what they got.

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                        16.12.2001 00:00
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                        • Fattening

                        Christmas, we are told, is about giving. It's about loving, togetherness and families. For many people it's about Christ too and celebrating his birth. Which is a little bit late in my opinion as he died yonks ago. At some point long before Christmas eve town centres will become intolerable. The roof of Harvey Nichols has already sprouted fake snow machines which rain an incessant stream of "snowflakes" on closer inspection these turn out to be very small soap bubbles. If you can bring yourself to press on through the surprisingly miserable and viscious crowds (watch out for the Mothers who's perambulators can deal a severe bruise to the ankle). Then you will be rewarded with shop displays so devastated by greedy, clutching hands that any attempt to purchase day to day essentials confounds you into an ignoble state of quivering frustration. When I was a child, and being taught the meaning of Christmas. My family would enage in a sort of highly speculative buying and selling game. Our parents would not only guarantee a fun filled and happy Christmas morning but actually add and remove presents on an imaginary list for episodes of good or bad behaviour. Thus it was possible to calculate exactly how many presents one would recieve simply by keeping track of the progress of this hypothetical document. It was also possible, on our highly flexible Christmas wish lists, to combine birthday and Christmas, birthday and two Christmases. Or for gifts that only marginally exceeded the perceived yuletide budget 1 Christmas or Birthday and 1 Easter egg or Hallowe'en present. As a result of this practice all the younger members of the family became rapidly skilled in addition, subtraction and the finer points of negotatiation. So how has this affected my attitude to the Festive Season? Well, over the years I have cultivated a healthy indifference. When December comes round and Christmas cards begin to plop onto the mat, ususa lly from people with whom I can scarcely bring myself to communicate. I eagerly scoop them up and fling them, unopened into the recycling box. The mince pies meet with a warmer reception until a certain weight threshold is reached whereupon I begin to scoop out the mincemeat and leave the pastry. Christmas lunch for me is usually an egg sandwich from a tupperware container since I have opted to work on Christmas day for the entirety of my adult life and refused to eat genetically modified, mutant hospital turkeys. As for togetherness and the family, you can forget it. My memories of Christmas include raging tantrums and a lunch which finally came together at about four in the afternoon with many key components thoroughly cold and soggy. At this time of year days are at their shortest so it is only natural that we often feel a little down in the mouth. My advice...don't fight it, get out there and ruin someone's day. Season's greetings Dark Lady X

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                          15.12.2001 03:17
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                          In today's overindulgent culture we are all taken in to the overindulgence of christmas whether it be the giving of presents or the overeating, drinking too much syndrome. How many lives are ruined at christmas because of debt, affairs through office parties and upset stomachs from the overindulgence of rich food? How many people run off to the next weight watchers meeting having starved for a couple of days - is this happiness? Radio stations are offering money, magazines are offering money and newspapers are offering prizes for the best decorated houses but who pays the electric bills? I am not a party pooper, in fact I enjoy christmas as much as the next person but you will not find me in the supermarket buying extra chocs and drinks just for the fun of it. Gone are the days when I used to find chocolate brazils in the cupboard two months later as they had not been eaten. As an after thought - I always understood the true meaning of christmas was to celebrate the birth of Christ. In reality he was born in a manger, in a barn which he shared with animals. There was no christmas tree lights, no turkey and no trimmings or alcahol to celebrate his arrival.

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                            13.12.2001 17:48
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                            For many people, Christmas is not a time of peace on joy - leaving aside the many people around the world who are stricken by war, poverty, disease and the like, Christmas brings for more melancholy than it does joy for a depressingly large number of people. Rampant commercialisation is certianly a part of the problem. Through the media, we have long been sold a vision of what Christmas should be - mountains of presents under the tree, the latest, most spangly toys for our children, the big turkey, the table groaning under a feast and everyone being happy. Children will often badger parents for the latest desinger toy, and those unable to afford such things often feel guilty and inadequate. Many families, trying to manage that 'perfect' Christmas will get themselves into debt this month - its normal, it happens every year. The debt and its interest will leave them that bit poorer for the following year, that bit more worried. Financial strains can tear families apart, and it is also notable that this is a peak time for relationships and marriages falling apart. If you buy the best presents, your family and friends will love you. If you buy the best toys for your children, they will be happy. The advertising myths are compelling, and we want to believe them becasuse we want to be able to make the day perfect, easily. Shopping at this time of year is a horrbile exeperince, stressful, time consuming and frustrating. It's enough to drive anyone mad. Shopping creates fear - with every gift you buy, you have to wonder if the recipient will actually like it - if they don't, or they already have it, the let down for the giver can be terrible. Even if you can buy the allegedly biggest and best, you still can't be sure it will be liked, you still have to worry that your child might break it within 24 hours, and on it goes. Commercialisation isn't just about gifts, oh no. You have to have that table groaning with food - you must have more than you can eat, and eat yourself sick on it. Supermarkets sell you the image of how your meal should be, and you buy the products that will guarentee you that 'perfect' meal.Is it worth it I ask you? Then, Christmas is the time to sell us that new diet to shed the pounds, that new dress for the parties, that new...... anything. It's the time for every manufacturer and advertsier to really put the pressure on you. For some reason, we think that Christmas should be this perfect time of joy and love, and have accepted the notion that joy and love can be obtained through good purchasing. This is a load of rubbish, and it doesn't take much thinking about it to realise this. Sometimes it is the least expensive of presents that turns out to be the most valued. I'd rather be in a relaxed house, than one straining while the person cooking fails to manage that 'perfect' meal and falls into a fit of depression. I'd rather be in a house where gifts are small, but the debts aren't mounting up for next year. Money doesn't buy happiness, but the lack of it can get you abject misery and Christmas often elads to horrendous debts. Comercialism starts by making you believe that you life is empty, and them ofering you the wonder product that will make everything ok, that will make you loved, sexy, thinner, more popular, more intelligent, more fashionable, whatever. They lie. I want Christmas to be more simple, more about enjoying time with people than getting the shopping right. I know however, that I will fret over the presents, worry about whether I've spent too much/not enough and suffer the Christmas guilt and blues as much as I do every year. There's no easy way to fight it, but hopefully now anyone who feels the way I do will know they aren't alone.

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                              12.12.2001 15:39
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                              Is Christmas too commercialised? Well ask yourself this. If you have no money this Christmas - in fact even if you're already overdrawn - can you imagine yourself giving no presents? Can you imagine giving your family and closest friends a simple "Merry Christmas!" and nothing else.... Of course you can't. There's a whole bunch of people you feel positively *obliged* to give a present to. Mum, Dad, Brothers, Sisters, Best Friend, mustn't forget Aunts or they might cut us out of their will, can't leave out John at work because he's going to buy me something and I'd feel really embarrassed saying thankyou if I didn't follow it with "And this is for you," etc. etc. etc. The first subtle hint should be when it takes you hours to think of something to buy for each individual. If you're wracking your brains so hard, then they can hardly need anything. And yet you'll spend ages thinking of something you can buy anyway, just for the sake of it. You give it to them and they take it to be exchanged, whilst you throw away the crap they just bought you. And you're all a bit further in debt with nothing to show for it. If you feel so obliged to give presents, that you'll do it even when it's putting you in debt, and when it's unlikely anyone needs the stuff you're buying, then obviously Christmas is over-commercialised. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Christ. He never gave anyone a superficial present. No CDs, Playstation games, books, toys, gadgets, etc. When he gave, it was always what people really needed. And he always gave of himself - his time, his talents. Eventually he even gave his life to all of us. And whilst the wise men brought Jesus gifts, the shepherds, who had nothing, didn't. They didn't feel obliged to take out loans so they could give him stuff he didn't need. In all of our giving presents, most of us become too busy to actually give gifts - our time, our talents. We're so busy Christmas shopping for people who don't need anything that we miss the beggars on the shopping streets, who really need us to give. We spend so much on Christmas that our giving to charity has to suffer for a few months. Yes Christmas is over-commercialised. To the point where most people don't realise who Jesus was, and find it tiresome to interrupt Christmas to remember him.

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                                11.12.2001 03:16
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                                I was resolved to write nothing about Christmas this year. After all, it has been done to death, and though it is a great way of attracting a few extra reads, as a dooyoo topic, there are even more contributors who won’t read these things than there are who won’t write about them. But since very few of you read the John o’Groat Journal, I felt the need to share something with you. Something which, I suspect, is replicated the country o’er in one form or another. Take one northern town. Take one northern town which is over two hours drive from the nearest main shopping place. Take one northern town whose traders scratch a living by providing goods and services either for those who cannot do the four hour round trip to the city, or by providing goods which cannot be readily obtained by mail order. Take one northern town, for whom the fun has gone out of Christmas (if indeed you subscribe to the view that there should be fun in Christmas. I do. That’s not to say I do not recognise or appreciate the religious significance of this festival, be its origins pagan or Christian. But only Wee Frees would deny us some fun at Christmas.) Take one northern town, which is now divided. Santa’s Grotto, organised by local charitable organisations, opened on Saturday 8th December. Traditionally, the town’s Christmas Fayre (how I hate that word, and even my spellchecker doesn’t like it much), organised by local traders, coincided with the opening of Santa’s Grotto, and a Big Fun Day was had by all. Except that this year, the traders wanted the Fun Day on the 1st December, ie the first Saturday after November. Why? Because the biggest local employer, the notorious Dounreay atomic energy/reprocessing/whatever-you-believe plant, paid its employees on the 30th of November. And the local traders reckoned that if they left t he Fun Day until the 8th of December, the “pay cheques will have gone to Inverness”. And in the midst of this furore, we had the same Traders Association lobbying the local authority about “unfair competition”. It appears that Charity Shops in the town are benefiting from subsidised Business Rates, which gives them an unfair advantage over “bona fide” traders. On the front page of the local paper, the local branch of Imperial Cancer Research gets most of the stick. It’s a difficult one to call, isn’t it? I mean, the knee jerk reaction of most of us is to condemn the commercialisation of Christmas. But for some small businesses, the difference between survival and demise can be the difference between a good Christmas and a bad one. We’re not talking about the nationals and multi-nationals here – we’re talking about the little people like you and me. This is not so much an opinion, more a question. Let me end with a press quote. “ ‘I forgot Christmas is about maximising profit’ says Traders’ disgruntled chairman.” © Mike Clark 2001.

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                                  10.12.2001 00:19
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                                  That's the way it seems in American. That's fine, but in the "recent" (20?) years, it seem that the "Christmas season" starts earlier each year. It wasn't that long ago, when the Thanksgiving parade (last Thursday in November)was the "start of the Christmas season", with Santa at the end of the parade. The next day, Santa would "arrive" at all of the malls. And somehow, as if "over night", the stores all were decorated for Christmas. Now, I've seen Christmas decorations before Halloween (Oct. 31). It is really odd to take our boys "Trick or Treating" (an American tradition, Kids get dressed up in costumes and go door-to-door (or store-to-store) for candy)in the malls with the stories decorated for Christmas. And the stores play Christmas music in October (sometimes the radios too). Sometimes, by the time Christmas is actually here, you're almost SICK of the Christmas Music. And let's not forget about the TV commerical aids that tell you that THEIR product "is the PERFECT gift for everyone in your family". And maybe it is, if "everyone in your family" HAS a DVD or CD player, VCR, a computer or goes camping or on picnics, traveling, etc. Or maybe they simply aren't interested in that. And "least" of all, if YOU can afford one let alone "one for everyone in your family". I feel that there can and should be a balance between the religious side of Christmas and the other aspects of the holiday and season. The two can compliment each other very way. The season is about love and giving, right? When my children asked if I believed in Santa (when they DO believe in Santa. Not the guy in the red suit that jumps down chimneys and flies across the sky with reindeers, but the SPIRIT of Santa; the Spirit of love and giving. I just don't think that the commerial aspects of it IS within the spirit of love and giving. That's in the "spirit" of "making more money". And while I personally LOVE all the decorations and music, I then even too much of a GOOD thing is still too much. Too much of it takes away from the joy and magical aspect of Christmas I can remember when I was a teenager the radio announcer said that "every year the radios have a race to see who would play the first Christmas song of the season. So this announcer did, in JULY! At that time it was as a joke (the announcer was always pulling jokes like this), but now I don't think it would be one. As things are going now, it may be that we'll be hearing Christmas music in July (and not for the "Christmas in July" program we have here (to help the needy)). I think the ONLY Christmas things that should be in stories before November is craft items (as you need time to do the craft). And the only Christmas music that should be heard is for when musicians are rehearing the songs for a concert.

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