Am I a Grump for disliking Christmas?
Oh the guilt of disliking Christmas when “Tis The season to be Merry” but I just don’t get it.
I have thought about this many times let me tell you and so much so that I had to put my thoughts into words hoping that it may solidify some kind of answer in my mind.
Often when I write down what I think, the words start to make it real and come flowing out in great rapidity, giving me a reasoned and logical conclusion to my initial question. It perturbs me why I feel like this to say the least.
Known to my friends as Miss Positivity and known to my students as the great Motivator, how can a person like me be so negative about a time of year when we are all meant to be so happy?
Sitting in a Christmas traffic jam is the perfect time to really get to grips with what is going on around me.
The expectant and rushed faces in the cars make them look like members of a flock caught in some whirlwind of buying and shopping and buying some more…just in case.
After all the shops will be closed for 2 whole days and what on earth will we all do if we run out of things we need. Ah..there is that statement that jumps out at me …”things we need” or things that we think we need.
Now just in case you think I am one of those half naked tree hugging back to nature sorts ..I am not but I just cannot get into the whole hype of it all.
Yes… the music is lovely. Yes the mulled wine is even better! And the food is great. But what is it all about?
Is it about giving or about comparing the giving? My daughter was horrified last week at school when she deposited her presents on friends and one girl had given her a present that was in her mind more expensive than the one she had given. I got it in the ear the whole car journey back from school and naturally my renditions of “It’s not about the money its about the giving” fell on deaf ears.
Can I blame her for our different perceptions coming from a radically different childhood? She is growing up in a western consumerism society, I grew up in Africa.
At 12 years old the conditioning into believing that material goods bring self fulfillment has taken root. All around are tactics and advertising encouraging us to spend more, conditioning us to believe that the more we buy the happier we become.
Why is it then that the happiest people I have come across are African children in a village with a stick and the rim of a bicycle tyre to play with.
They roll the rim along the ground with the stick and their laughter resounds through the bushland.
Oh that life were so simple!
Our western society is engulfed in greed.
Greed that was allowed to grow out of control and to eventually put us in the mess we are now in. Yet it still continues, this constant pursuit of happiness through material consumption.
I remember a friend of mine in S. Africa telling me that one morning in his first week of freedom as he called it, he sat on a grassy bank watching the traffic pass by in the morning rush of Johannesburg.
He counted on both hands out of hundreds of cars how many people he thought looked happy. In the final analysis he amazed himself that for so long he had been one of the miserable faces continuing on the chore of going to a job he hated for years tied up in the belief that acquiring more money would make him happy.
Don’t get me wrong I do not go down the road of “money is the route of all evil” but I just feel it has all become too much.
Money is great when you are happy with what you are doing. If you hate what you do then never in a million years will it change that.
In my personal life at present I am faced with two teenagers with so called “needs”.
The constant battle of enforcing household rules and in particular the one where money comes from doing jobs sometimes feels like a battle against society as well.
How can we instill the ethos that to get rewarded you have to do something and you have to contribute. When I look around me today all I see are people who take and do not give back. It has become a way of life and something they feel they are entitled too.
If they want to give their friends expensive presents at Christmas then they should work for it . In that way they will feel a sense of achievement and self -respect …something that many teenagers today don’t have.
When I lecture in college I use my students as a window on Society. Their attitudes and aspirations by the time they reach me are usually molded by school and most of all they arrive with preconceived ideas of learning .
They have not learnt how to learn. Their curriculum is so tied up with results and stats that the joy of learning had been pushed aside. It has become results focused.
I take it upon myself to try and retrain their thinking.
To show them that anything is possible when you unleash your creativity and find that natural curiosity that will turn you into a lifelong learner.
I try my best using My stories of Africa to extend their boundaries of what will make them happy. Some of them get it and move forward ..some don’t.
So where do I stand?
I stand outside Western society right now looking in. I can see beyond it and what I can see is space, lots of flat open space off into the Horizon just to the point where the earth meets the sky. I can see myself there looking into the distance.
I have a plan for the future that is working and that’s what keeps me going for now.