Now that we have passed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, do you still believe that Christmas is for kids? Have you looked at a flyer lately? Say your favourite big-box hardware or electronics store, or home decor outlet. How about your inbox or social media feeds? Christmas is not for kids. Christmas is for retailers, manufacturers and marketers. It is the time of year when the big money is made.
Oh sure, the “Christmas is for kids,” sentiment is still alive and well and used very effectively by marketers who specifically target children, who then successfully lobby their parents to get the latest, greatest, newest toys on the retail shelf. No parent wants to see their precious little manipulated sons or daughters feel deprived. Wouldn’t depriving their children make them a bad parent? Too many parents these days worry too much about disappointing their kids if they don’t get the latest Disney themed whatever, the newest Hatchimal or interactive pet, this year’s Fingerlings or my least favourite, LOL, which is often more packaging than toy, a fact that annoys the crap out of the environmentalist in me. This company is surely laughing out loud all the way to the bank.
I can’t believe how many parents and grandparents say, “all their friends have them,” as if to justify purchasing decisions. And do they ALL or is it just one friend, maybe two, which can easily turn into “ALL” when a child is lobbying. I’m not saying that your kids and grandkids are lying, but most of them do have a tendency to exaggerate, especially for a cause. Well kiddies, to quote Mick Jagger, “you can’t always get what you want.” Now there’s a life lesson. Just because kids write a list, doesn’t mean that they need to get everything on it.
I also can’t believe how many people don’t understand marketing. The fact that the next toy trend is just around the corner and the past one will be forgotten just as quick and will likely end up in the landfill. There was once a time when toys were precious and were kept for years. Recent studies have shown that children who have too many toys are more easily distracted. They get overwhelmed and can’t concentrate and don’t seem to develop their imaginations. These studies come to the conclusion that fewer toys is better for your kids. Imagine how much better fewer toys would be for your bank account and the environment.
Remember when grownups didn’t really spend much money on each other. That was back in the days when Christmas actually was about kids and about family. Well not any more. Again just look at those flyers. There are all those wonderful, latest, greatest, newest power tools, gadgets and kitchen appliances. Plus the latest, greatest, newest video game systems that are not just marketed at tweens and teens. Bigger, better and newer TVs appear every year, making it hard to remember when a family television set could last twenty years. And don’t forget smartphones, one of the most marketed status symbols on the planet that most people from ten to ninety years old can no longer live without. Why not pair one with a new designer purse? Or a set of cigar glasses that hold 8oz of liquid and a 48-gauge cigar. I kid you not. I feel as if we should all have SUCKER stamped on our foreheads.
Remember when the family Christmas tree was sentimental? When bringing out and hanging the decorations evoked memories of past holiday seasons? Well not any more. Christmas trees and decoration have become fashion items. Worse yet, they have become disposable fashion items because they are now trendy, with colours and styles changing annually. Wait, are turquoise and lime green still Christmas colours? Are trees skinny or fat this year? What type of lights are the designers using? Is wrapping with ribbon still a thing? No modern fashion-conscious family wants to look out of style in their Christmas home decor. What would their neighbours think? What would their trendy friends think?
Now I may not be able to change all this, but I can choose not to participate. I have been participating less and less every year for the last several years. Oh we will still have Christmas. I love turkey and stuffing and family. JT is coming home for a couple of days. There will be mulled wine, several pots full. There will be old-fashioned Hogmanay shortbread from an old Nova Scotian cookbook and perhaps pie. We will unpack the lights and all the decorations that took over thirty years to accumulate and put them on a real tree while breathing in the scent of fresh spruce. We will water this tree every morning and sweep up the needles on a regular basis. We will uphold our traditions.
What I won’t be doing is going to the stores and agonizing over finding the perfect gift, In today’s world there are no perfect gifts, just fads; and I can’t, and don’t want to, keep up with the fads. This year, for the first time ever, almost everyone, including the youngest grandkid, is getting cash. Instead of shopping, I plan to relax, drink mulled wine and eat shortbread. I am including my recipe for mulled wine in case you would like to join me.
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 1 inch pieces. (I sometimes use two)
1/4 tsp ground cloves. (2 or 3 whole cloves will also work)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2/3 C sugar
1 bottle (750 ml / 4/5 qt) dry red wine
1 C port wine (or your regional version of this fortified wine)
Thin orange or clementine slices
Combine ingredients in pot. Heat to serving temperature.
We make a big pot and keep reheating it until it is gone. It gets better and better with every reheat. Then we make another pot.
Thanks for reading.