The answer for me is— both. On the one hand, Christmas is the time in Western countries when capitalism is at its most ravenous. It’s loudest. It’s boldest.
We’re being shouted at from every single angle and on every single online platform that we need to perform our love for our children and everyone else by buying.
Not to mention that there is a huge pressure on the shoulders of mothers to make the magic of Christmas a reality for their families. The mental load just becomes absolutely too much at this time of year.
Personally, I don’t feel that pressure too much yet, because my daughter is only young. But I can see it in other mothers. I also remember it growing up.
On the other hand, now that I’m a mum, I look forward to Christmas in a way that I haven’t before. I can’t wait until my daughter gets old enough to understand what it means. I absolutely love the look on her face when I give her a present. Although she’s only 19 months old, I put a lot of thought into what I’ll buy her.
Honestly, I also love receiving presents. It makes me feel special and happy to have something new that I like. I’m not denying that I’m a capitalist in this way.
I’m guessing that this dual experience is a pretty common one. So the question is — how can we tune ourselves more into the job of Christmas, while accepting that we are participating in what is a form of Capitalist hell?
A few ideas:
1. Keep the present buying to a minimum. Also ask family members not to buy too many things.
2. Think about what YOU want Christmas to be about for your family.
3. If you’re in a straight relationship, or any relationship for that matter, have an open and honest conversation with your partner about the mental toll of the season and try to work out ways the load can be evenly shared.
4. If you and everyone in your immediate family isn’t a fan of Christmas— you literally don’t have to do it. This is probably not an option for most of us, but you can go against the grain and make a decision for what works best for your family.
5. Outsource what you can.
6. Remember, it’s ok to be an anticapitalist or criticise aspects of the system we live in and also enjoy presents. Nobody is saying we can never have any joy in our lives— or, if they are, then I disagree.