Thursday, December 24, 2009

What is Christmas ?

Today is officially Christmas eve. I used to spend Christmas with my family, but this is my 2nd year that I'm being away from home.

Being from different countries and cultures, we all have our own definitions of Christmas.

For some, its Christmas shopping. Wanting to get all the best deals for our dear families and friends, we rush off to the shopping centers in Chadstone and hope for a bargain (even though there's hardly any). We visit the Olivia presentation in the Myer display windows with our kids, and thereafter rush into the shops for ''deals'' on summer clothes and perfumes. Its a ridiculous shopping frenzy indeed, and the large departmental stores / businesses are indeed making a killing from our pockets.

Some house wives in America spend so much on shopping (not only on Christmas of course) for Jimmy Choo shoes and LV bags, that they had to end up mortgaging their car and house. I saw a spanish housewife on the Ellen DeGeneres show being given $10,000 in cash because she was that deep in debt. Thats definitely no way to be spending Christmas with your family.

Do you remember how Christmas toys used to be relatively affordable? Now even kids toys are getting expensive.

Consider this made-in-china dolls house from Myers at $99.

Or this Monty Rex toy set for $189. Nope, those Toys R Us advertisements on television aren't helping our parents to save their hard-earned money!

Shopping centers around the world are putting up Christmas decorations and cliche Christmas songs to entice consumers to visit their shops. Of course, the decorations in Melbourne are no where near the glitz and glam of Times Square, New York or Orchard Road in Singapore.

For some, its going home to spend time with family. Many of my friends have flown home to their respective countries, only to be bored in the weeks ahead. Of course, some of the more industrious ones bake, do a bit of travelling or pick up a new hobby. For the families who're tired of entertaining relatives and having Christmas dinners, holidays are a pretty good excuse too.

Of course, we cannot deny that in some parts of Europe, travelling has been difficult due to adverse weather conditions, aka. snow storms. Flights have been delayed, and some folks have been camping at the airports for almost 3 days without any compensation from airline companies in the form of temporary hotel accommodation or food coupons. I pity those parents with young kids. I'm sure in that kind of situation, it's a Christmas that they'll definitely remember. (Whoops, I've forgotten to mention the 80 people who've frozen to death from sub zero temperatures~).

For some others its food. Having a large spit roast together with mashed potatoes, salad and sauce. Other novelty meals during Christmas is a large leg of ham, stuffed turkey and some suckling pig. Yum! Of course the restaurants are also going to make a killing. An average 3 course meal including bevarages and a visit by Santa is approximately $100 for adults and $50 dollars for kids. For the average family, that's heaps !

For some, life goes on as usual. Some doctors, policemen and CFA volunteers aren't going to stop work just because its Christmas: they just can't afford to. I was watching a news where a woman who got her groin impaled on a fence in the suburbs had to wait for 45 minutes for medical attention. The ambulance workers are instead arguing that they are underpaid and overworked. In a regular town of 4,000 people, there are only 2 ambulance attendants on duty during Christmas. Now that hurts! ;)

Oh yes, I've forgotten booze and hard partying during Christmas, especially in the nightclubs around town (eg. QVH on Southbank). Just bear in mind while partying, active drinking laws are in effect, so do be aware that road blocks may be implemented by your local police. If you'd like to save the hassle of a fine, take the train or a night bus home!

Of course, for most Christians, it is a time where pre-Christmas masses are common, where they acknowledge that the baby Jesus was born to the virgin Mary almost 2 thousand years ago to save humanity from our sins. In one sense also, those who haven't been to church for a whole year do make a point to visit it during Christmas!

Well folks, whatever your definition of Christmas is, it is here to stay. How you spend it depends on you, but I do hope you will enjoy the Christmas season with your friends and loved ones.




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