Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Spirit Of Christmas

So I know I originally only intended for this blog to be writing related, but let's face it, I haven't exactly been active and I'm not doing any writing right now and I finished NaNo and, well, yeah, this technically counts as writing, so yeah!

Anyway, I have a gripe. And it's a pretty big gripe. In fact, it's my biggest gripe in life, period.

The kids of today, and the lack of appreciation they have for the things they SHOULD be appreciating.

Now, I can admit to anyone who asks me that I haven't exactly been a perfect child/teenager. I've done some absolutely terrible things in my short time. Short of murder and rape, I've pretty much done it all. I'm by no means an innocent.

But honestly? I'm talking about the smaller things. The much smaller things.

Let me give you a bit of backstory;

When I was little, I lived in a little town in Lincolnshire called Grantham. To say I loved it is an understatement. I adored that town. I adored my home. I adored my school, my friends, my teachers, I had a perfect childhood. I loved my street, my park, everything. I loved everything. I loved how my bedroom had a huge bay window, I loved how the living room had an equally huge window looking out onto the garden, and I loved how our front room, despite being pretty much level with the pavement outside, had a perfectly sized window so that when we put our tree up at Christmastime, everyone seen it. It was perfect. I loved it. I can't say that enough, I loved it.

And one thing I loved more than anything, more than anything in the world, was Christmastime. I should point out that I'm not religious in the slightest, I do not and will never believe in a higher being, and I have my reasons for that. But I went to a Christian school. My junior school was literally about 20 yards away from the most beautiful church in the world - St Wulfram's Church. I used to look up at it from my classroom when I was in year 4. Every year, around about November time, we'd start rehearsing for the Nativity play. Every year, without fail. I was always in the choir, and I loved that. I didn't want to act, I wanted to sing.

The teachers back then put their heart and soul into helping us every year with the nativity and, even at 6/7 years old, we as kids could tell the teachers actually enjoyed teaching us. And we enjoyed being taught. And every year, just before Christmas, we'd all pile into that beautiful church and perform the Nativity play. And we enjoyed it, every single second of it, we put our heart and soul into it and we enjoyed it because we knew it was Christmas. The Nativity play and the songs WERE Christmas.

Again, I'll point out, I'm in no way religious. Neither was anyone that I knew back then either really. It was the music, the notes, not the words.

Back then, we were never rich or even remotely "in the money". My dad was working for his own, pretty much non-productive (at the time) company and my mum was working all the hours under the sun at a nursing home just to keep the roof over our heads. Christmas wasn't about the size or expense of the present. It was about being a community, being friends, and being a family unit. When I was 6, 15 years ago, we still had Christmas carollers and neighbours posting cards to each other and such forth. Can you imagine going to your neighbour's house now and belting out a song at them? They'd probably get the police on us.

I don't know if it's because I moved to Scotland that I'm so bitter. In Scotland, it's very much a case of you're either Protestant or Catholic. I don't know why they have Catholicism here instead of Christianity, it's essentially the same bloody thing, but that's not the gripe at hand here. What I will say though is that the Scottish school system seems to take all the fun and excitement out of the Nativity play, primarily because you're FORCED to do it. When I was in school in Grantham, it was a case of "If you want to do it, you can. If you don't want to do it, you don't have to". Up here, because you're in a strict Religious school, you have to do it. It's part of your education. That instantly takes the actual meaning out of it.

Secondly, children these days have absolutely no appreciation for the things that they should appreciate. By children, I mean anyone under the age of 18, basically. It's fair to say that I wasn't exactly brought up on operatic or choir music, it was more... Queen and Meatloaf, and yeah, that's pretty cool, but, because of my educational upbringing in school in Grantham, because of the environment I was brought up it, I have SUCH a HUGE appreciation of the musical arts. I literally could sit and listen to a beautiful soprano singer all day every day. Especially at Christmas time, because, well, classical music is naturally quite Christmassy, isn't it?

And do you know what I put this all down to? The advancements in technology.

Now, there's no doubt it was going to happen. Technology was always going to and is always going to find it's own evil ways to advance. But because of advancements in technology, kids just aren't taking any interest in anything of substance these days.

Hey, mum on the street, why are you buying your 8 year old an XBox 360 for Christmas? Shouldn't your 8 year old be out catching tadpoles with his friends? No, because catching tadpoles is boring and it involves actually moving, why should he move when he can just sit in front of the TV and be brainwashed into thinking that shooting up Afghan's in Call Of Duty is cool?

Hey, dad in Argos, why does your 10 year old need an iPod? What exactly are they going to listen to, Dora's directions to the bathroom? I suppose they came home and told you that one of the big boys had one and well, that was you, hook, line and sinker, no?

Hey, parents in PC World, why in the name of hell does your little kid need a laptop? Can't they use the family computer to play Barbie's Princess Adventures?

No, and this is exactly they problem. Two problems, in fact.

1. Parents are getting FAR too protective these days. They'll hit you with the "Murders! Rapists!" bullshit - what, you think there weren't any murdered and rapists around when you were a kid, or what I was a kid? The only difference is that, these days, they get far more media coverage because the media likes you to buy into this little thing they like to call "Mass hysteria" where-in they will, eventually, make you a nervous wreck unable to leave your own front door because there WILL be someone waiting there to mug you.

Oh dear. I've gone off on a bit of a tangent.

Look, the point is, Christmas isn't the same any more because everyone is pretty much so set on buying their kid's affection with big fancy presents that, quite frankly, they will never need, that the REAL spirit of Christmas, the Nativity, the choirs, the hymns, the carols, the cards, the Christmas trees, they all get forgotten about.

It's not only that of course, it's not all down the kids and parents. We've all adopted such atrociously vigorous work ethics these days that, where once before families would have put Christmas day with their family before work, nowadays, it's very much a case of "If I'm working, I'm working". 20-30 years ago, for a start, a company generally would never have asked anyone to work Christmas because it was such a family-orientated holiday. And it was exactly that - a holiday. Nowadays, Christmas is literally just a day, then it's all back to normal. That's not how I remember it. That's not how Christmas should be.

And it's saddening. It's really saddening.

The other day, my nephew got "made" to perform in the Sunday School nativity, and when he came home, boy was he pissed at having to be a shepherd. I wanted to scream at him, "These are the best days of your life! These are the days you should cherish! You should love these moments!", but of course, I can't. Because that's not my place. It's my opinion, but not my place.

The same nephew, two Christmases ago, at age 10, got a present. He got a whole multitude of presents, but there was this one present, and my beloved captured it perfectly on camera and everything. He opened this present, looked at it, chucked it to one said and said, "I didn't want this one, I wanted the other one!"

At 10 years old, to me, ANY present was a joy! I didn't whinge about presents, I didn't through my teens either, and I wouldn't DREAM of it now! And you know what that is a perfect example of? It's a perfect example of how kids are being brought up with the wrong idea about Christmas these days.

I'll reiterate one last time, I am in no way religious. But I would take kids believing Christmas is about jesus over kids believing Christmas is about presents any day. Presents are just a nice side point, the REAL point is FAMILY. FRIENDS. COMMUNITY. That's the real point of Christmas!

But nowadays you have kids who get up, open their presents, then go and sit in their room the rest of the day playing on their brand new console/computer/gadget-type thing. THAT'S NOT CHRISTMAS!

And it's absolutely, terrifyingly horrible. And I hate it. And it's not going to change because, well, times have changed and technology is everything now. Technology, and greed. Yes, everyone has some amount of greed in them to some extent. I know I do, and I know you do too. But to the point of chucking a present aside because it's not exactly what you wanted?


Next year, for Christmas 2012, round about November time, I'm going to start a campaign called "BRING CHRISTMAS BACK".

It's late and I've successfully depressed myself now.

I'm going to bed.