Saturday, 1 December 2012

My wife thinks I am like Scrooge because I don't like what Christmas has become

The run-up to Christmas seemed to begin just before Halloween ... and since then it has got worse.

Over the course of the last two days I have had to visit several shops and shopping centres and I cannot believe what people are buying ... or in some cases, not buying. Yesterday I fell foul of a shopping 'committee'. You know what I am talking about; it is a group of people – usually related and ranging in age from two to ninety – who go shopping together. Every purchase has to be examined, discussed, handled, put back, picked up again ... and then finally rejected after every member of the group has had the opportunity to have their 'input'. This can take anything from two or three minutes to an hour, during which time the group and all their attendant paraphernalia block the only way you can get through from one part of the shop to another. (In yesterday's instance the detritus this group had with them consisted of a double baby buggy, a shopping trolley, and what I understand is called a rollator [a sort of wheeled Zimmer frame with brakes and a seat].) Having rejected almost everything that they had looked at, every member of the group them photographed each rejected item on their mobile phones so that they could discuss what they had seen when they got home!

Driving has also become very difficult in and around London. Today I sat in a queue approaching a roundabout on a main road for ten minutes because people were queuing around the roundabout and onto the road to get into the car park of a large superstore. The car park was full, but drivers trying to get into it managed to block the roundabout with their cars ... with the result that other people could not get out of the car park! I got caught up in the chaos even though I was not going to the superstore.

I have seen numerous minor accidents where cars have bumped into each other in traffic queues or trying to park in car parks; I have seen (and heard) arguments between grown adults about who had been waiting longer for the single car parking space that had just become vacant; and I have witnesses trolley rage in a supermarket when someone tried to change to a different – and possibly faster-moving – checkout queue just as someone else tried to join that queue.

All of this is done to the seemingly endless soundtrack of 'White Christmas', 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer', or some other saccharine-sounding Christmas music.

I know that Christmas was different when I was young, and sometimes it is easy to say that it was better. In the glow of nostalgic hindsight it probably seems as if it was ... but I suspect that it was not. That said, the build-up to Christmas started at the beginning of December and the 'panic' did not really start until a week before 25th December. I don't like what Christmas has become ... and if that makes me a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge then so be it. When 'A Christmas Carol' appears on our screens over the Christmas holiday – as not doubt it will do – I will be hoping that poor old Scrooge gets an uninterrupted night's sleep and misses all the excitement of the ghostly visits.


PS. Oscar Wilde is reputed to have once said that 'One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.' I feel very much the same about some of Dickens’s more mawkish passages in 'A Christmas Carol'. Am I alone in sometimes wishing I could give Tiny Tim a good smack around the ear for being so 'nice' about Scrooge?

14 comments:

  1. Hi Bob,

    As one that today had to wrestle with the Xmas decorations (including the dreaded 'sorting out of the lights') I feel your pain! A Christmas Carol - mawkish or otherwise, is guaranteed to get me in the Christmas spirit so all I can say is (and this is before you clip him around the ear!) 'God bless us, every one!'

    All the best,

    DC

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  2. David Crook,

    Christmas would be great if we could get it over in a couple of weeks and not a couple of months. By the time we get to it I am feeling so fed up with the preamble that I just want to sit somewhere quiet, read, and wargame ... but I am told that doing that is anti-social!

    Not so much 'God bless us all' as 'God help us'!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. I agree with you. Here in the States, Christmas used to start with 'Black Friday' the day after Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November). The last couple of years stores have been opening on Thanksgiving, and the sales are starting earlier than that. People camped out for DAYS to be first in line for 'Doorbuster' deals. Last year, a worker at Walmart was trampled to death, when the crowd actually busted a door open and pinned him underneath.

    It continually gets justified as being a benefit to the economy. But it's just greed-plain and simple.

    I just glade I don't live by any of these people who feel they need to put a million lights on their house [often synchronized to blink to some annoying song that plays 12 times an hour-Gungnam style is popular this year).

    It's supposed to be the "Twelve Days of Christmas". What happened to that?

    All the best,

    Stuart

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  4. Sounds like you need a 'XMAS Getaway Cruise' Bob.

    Start organising it now!

    Jim

    PS

    Ever done the Panama Canal?

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  5. I spent twenty-five years as a manager for a large retail chain, and thank God every day that I am no longer employed by them. Spike and I "dropped out" of the mainstream Christmas several years ago, and now buy for the the children of a few friends, have the adults over for a special dinner, and she bakes for everyone we know. Our Christmas movie is "Donovan's Reef" with John Wayne and the great Lee Marvin.

    Spike and I both believe that with the ugliness and greed displayed on the Day After Christmas, "Boxing Day" should actually involve pugilism.
    -Steve

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  6. SAROE (Stuart),

    I think that your second paragraph sums it up. It is pure greed … on the part of buyers and seller. (I won’t go into which is more to blame than the other but …)

    It has got to the stage that my wife and I only buy each other small but important presents at Christmas rather than big flashy ones. If we need something like a new iPad or laptop we will always buy it in the sales … usually the post-Christmas ones!

    This year there seem to be fewer ‘illuminated’ houses near where I live. It may be to do with the rising cost of power in the UK or it may be the ‘arms race’ that seemed to exist – where each house tried to outdo their neighbour – has lost its appeal. At least we don’t have any lightshows with sound. I suspect that our local council would soon put a stop to that!

    Have a great Christmas!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Jim Duncan,

    Funny you should say that but …

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. We have not done the Panama Canal … yet … but one day, perhaps!

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  8. Steve Page (Steve),

    You managed to stay in retailing for twenty-five years? I have taught and worked in a shop selling to the public … and I know which I thought was easier! Pupils can at least accept that they might be wrong, but in my albeit limited experience, customers were never wrong … even when they were.

    Your Christmas sounds like my idea of heaven … although my Christmas movie would be either ‘Zulu’ or ‘The Man Who Would Be King’. (I like John Wayne [The John Ford ‘Cavalry’ trilogy and ‘The Horse Soldiers’ are amongst my favourite films] and Lee Marvin, but Michael Caine just has the edge for me.)

    Fighting on Boxing Day? We you looking through the window of my home when I was a teenager? Family ‘discussions’ and ‘entertainment’ often resulted in blows being exchanged, especially if they involved the playing of ‘Monopoly’. (I come from a very competitive family, and my father and all his brothers were boxers.)

    Have a great Christmas!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Bob,
    I share many of your sentiments about the commercialisation of Christmas.
    For me, the Truce of 1914 represents the true spirit far better and - after showing them a television programme about it, I persuaded my son and daughter (who often quarrel ferociously) to have their own Christmas Truce each year.
    Regards,
    Arthur

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  10. Arthur1815,

    It is surprising how many people are becoming 'turned off' by the commercialisation of Christmas … and with the current economic down-turn it is likely that without it many retailers would go to the wall.

    I like the idea of a family Christmas ‘truce’. Perhaps that might be something that the general publish should adopt at this time of year.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Sounds like a good time of year to plan a cruise.

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  12. Ross Mac,

    That's a good idea! I must talk to my wife about the possibility.

    Watch this space for further news!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. Bah-Humbug!
    We do our "xmass shopping AFTER the holiday so as to get the bargains. We always make sure that the "gift" is something we can use in case the intended recipient dies before the next Dec 25th - we are both in our late 70s.

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  14. Dick Bryant,

    It sounds like an excellent strategy!

    Perhaps I could suggest it to my wife?

    All the best,

    Bob

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