By Dwij Rogbeer
You may know about that story by Dickens named the Christmas Carol, the one where the miserly Scrooge turned into a happier Scrooge (and consequently became generous) after the visit of the spirits of his past, his present and his future.
The moral of the story is that miserly people end up alone while spendthrift ones get all the attention they need, right? Even if Dickens wanted to highlight that generosity is what humanity is made of, it seems that nowadays we adhere to his words. Last minute shopping has become a habit. While going out for dinner, I could see how crowded the shops were even at about 8/9 pm, and I listened to that lady on a radio show talking about how gifts have evolved from the small car to the racing video game on the new gadgets. Technology has driven out imagination and set out new standards to entertainment.
It was not always like that though. I can remember waiting for Christmas as eagerly as every child on this planet. It was the time where when you got a toy, you enjoyed until it was broken. The new Nintendo game was just launched, already representing a major breakthrough in the virtual gaming and the dream of every boy even if he didn’t know the simplest thing about games. Town centres used to be full of busy people as from the 20th. It was a race against time towards the best preparation for Christmas Eve and no stones were left unturned. Indeed you could feel the festive mood around. The conifer already decorated, children would struggle against their sleep till midnight just to see Santa Claus. One of my friends even used to keep cookies for him. Somehow parents could always convince their offspring of the importance of going to bed on Christmas night. The following day, well before dawn, children would wake up and rush under the foot of the Christmas tree to discover what Santa had brought for them. A small car meant much more than a toy, it represented freedom. I knew someone who once cut a teddy tiger’s whiskers thinking that it would grow once again.
We should then ask ourselves if we are happier now. Being perfect little robots doesn’t suit us the least and as a result, we are losing the only things that makes us humans and that thing is our heart. Buying expensive stuff for pampered kids is what summarises Christmas, along with discounts and huge amounts of house chores, for tradition’s sake. The usual pre-Christmas week has been shortened to pre-Christmas day, and now pre – Christmas Eve is the shopping time. The 24th December is no longer that family moment of decorating the Christmas tree or of family reunion where children would wait together with hope, and somewhere I feel sorry for that. Being born in that fast-paced era made them miss much of the fun which most of us, last year high school students , had and which the child in us prolonged. Look at a child nowadays, that sweet innocence has disappeared to make place for mental ‘maturity’. Indeed, better food and being spoilt while the parents are gone working compels the child to grow by himself. Living has nothing of that element of mystery it had long ago, it has become much more of a boring, repetitive task which consists mainly of going to work and ending up at home, too tired to have a real discussion with family members.
Ultimately, the birth of Christ can be celebrated without expensive gifts from Rolex or Sony: it reveals the child who sleeps in us and who cannot wait to get up and have a little fun. If that day calls for celebration, so be it. Who cares about the preparation behind it? Christmas time is a period of forgiveness, fraternity and happiness. It is a day where all get together, irrespective of the religious beliefs or of the opinions about religion. It is a day where life is celebrated, no matter if it’s the day of the winter Solstice or whatever else. On this special occasion, my thoughts go to those children who never had a glimpse of Christmas magic and to those who spent this day without their loved ones.
* Published in print edition on 28 December 2012