I get very antsy around Christmas time, and it’s not tied to any religious beliefs or lack thereof. It’s tied to the issues I have with modern society telling me I must spend, spend, spend or my loved ones won’t love me back.
Similarly, I have issues around Valentine’s Day, and around Mother’s and Father’s day. I long ago told my children not to spend money on Mother’s Day. If they love me, and appreciate me, then they can show me anytime they want, all year round. I don’t want Hallmark etc dictating to them to go spend their money on me at a certain time of year as this benefits no one but the retailers, and places additional stress, both financial and emotional, on everyone.
So, in a fit of pique one December, I scribbled this poem out on a Saturday morning just after getting out of bed. I’ve calmed down enough since then to share it with you. Am I just getting old and cranky, or am I seeing through all the smoke and mirrors of modern advertising/commerce etc?
a poem about commercialism in modern society
by Jennifer Mosher
and time to pay.
The masses come
as the doors open.
The big, the small
the young, the old
heading to their preferred spots
where they will spend the next few hours
in earnest devotion.
with its shiny floors
so beautifully decorated
built so the disciples
can honour their god
Yes, it’s Saturday
and Westfield opens
for another day.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t blame Frank Lowy for our modern day ills. He has just been smart enough to capitalise on everything that’s been happening over the last 100 years, and to me, the malls which seem to eat whole suburbs are just representative of a lot of what is wrong with modern society. You see, when I read that Christmas presents are a relatively new thing (a less than 150 year old tradition in the western world), and that most of the other days which we ‘celebrate’ by buying people stuff are all pretty much the result of modern commercialism, I get really cranky.
If I love my family, why do I have to spend time with them on Christmas Day in particular? Why is it that if I want to spend the day quietly doing housework instead, without having people over, it suggests that there’s something wrong with me? Why can’t we have a special day together when it suits us a family – regardless of the time of year? And why do we have to buy each other presents because someone died 2,000 years ago?! Seriously – how many people in the world today really celebrate Christmas with the true spirit that should be intended?
If you watch any American sit-com long enough, sooner or later there will be the ubiquitous Thanksgiving episode where everyone stresses out about Thanksgiving Day – who’s going where, who wants to do what, what are they going to eat, why do they have to put up with Aunty Betty? And so on and so on. So why do it? And the Valentine’s Day episode where some middle-aged woman ends up in tears because she thinks her husband isn’t going to send her flowers this year?
There is a liberation, an empowerment, in buying the things we want and need only as we want or need them, rather than having to adhere to modern society’s expectations; and there is a joy in giving gifts to loved ones simply because we saw something they would like or need, and we buy it and give it to them because we love them – at any time of the year.
And on the rare occasions my husband buys me flowers, I love it, because I know it’s genuine. He’s long since learned not to buy them after a fight – you can’t buy me back by giving me things, so don’t even try! Give me flowers because you love me and because they make me smile, and for no other reason; don’t do it to stop me being cranky with you – it will only make me madder!