Laure Deriaz discusses the highs and lows of Christmas consumerism
The joyful yet stress-inducing period of Christmas is now truly upon us, even the freak snowfall in London over the weekend seems to be a sign of the quickly-approaching holiday season. So, what comes to mind when thinking about Christmas? Is it spending time with family watching bad TV movies and eating a socially unacceptable amount of food? For many, and myself included, Christmas and the holiday season generally conjures images of shopping: being stuck with what to buy for that one random family member that you don’t know very well; maneuvering yourself through the huge crowds on the notorious Oxford Street and those heart-warming department store ads, with not so cute ulterior motives. Not very true to the original Christmas spirit, but the holiday has morphed into a consumerist exercise of spending. Even literary works are pushing this idea, Little Women begins by stating that “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents”.
Here we go again, yet another article among the many moaning about Christmas and consumerism. It’s a valid point however, as a study by Nationwide has found that the average British person will spend about £700 a year on Christmas expenses which roughly amounts to an average of £45,000 over a lifetime. Think about what you could do with all that money! Pay off student debt first of all, but we could also take a very lavish trip somewhere, the possibilities are endless. This year, however, the trend seems to show that we are slowing down on our spending habits.
For the first time since 2012, British shoppers are set to be spending less and cutting back for the latest holiday season according to a study done by IHS Markit for Visa. In many ways, this predicted trend is a positive one, perhaps not so for retailers, but the huge pressures may be relieved, if only a little. The high expectations of the ‘perfect Christmas’ that has been indoctrinated in our minds by retailers and others ends up costing us a small fortune. The pressures are especially felt by those who are less financially able to keep up with this perpetuated image of the perfect Christmas; many falling into debt to achieve so-called perfection.
Is it that people have shifted their mentality and are focusing less on the materialistic side of the holiday? Probably not. But this Christmas (or whatever holiday you may be celebrating), spend it however you want and don’t be pressured into having a Hallmark movie; one where you’re laughing with all your family with a billion presents under a huge tree if that’s not what you want or aren’t able to do. In reality, Christmas is often a time of high tension within families: let’s be honest, how many people haven’t had at least a little family tiff during the merry season? Perhaps instead of indulging in Christmas consumerism. have a think about other gifts you can give… Something even as simple as being present in the moment (instead of glued to your phone!) whilst spending time with your loved ones is worth a million presents, that’s for sure.