Disclaimer: Christmas can be a great time for spending time with family and friends and for just generally doing nothing (i.e. relaxing). This post is a reflection on the stress of over-commercialised, hyper-competitive, shopping-intensive Christmas chaos.
Another year of work is over. Office Christmas parties have been had, the last rush of work has been successfully negotiated and the time has come to just chill out, put your legs up and do pretty much nothing for a while and enjoy the Christmas break, oblivious to the world, it’s multitudinous worries and all the norms to which you need to conform all year long. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
Now that you have entered the Holiday Season a different kind of KPI is upon you. Keeping up with social and family expectations, pursuing the horde to the twinkling lights and over-priced food and beverages of yuletide commercialism, and internalising all of that stress you needed to release after a difficult year in the office, factory or farm as you drag your exhausted body through throngs of feverish shoppers and revelers, drunks and . The requirement to traipse all over your city, country or hemisphere enjoying packaged slices of twinkling happiness served on plastic platters is upon you.
Wherever you may be on a spectrum of the suspension of disbelief to embrace the Christian cosmology and message, the spectacularly misinformed commercial association of property, possession and purchases with the celebration of the apparent arrival of a Person-of-Peace to the planet some 2,000 or so years ago seems to be something which is never widely acknowledged. The frenzy of frantic shoppers, grimacing smiles and screaming toddlers, bickering frenzy, jostling and pushing, side-stepping and barging, wielding credit cards like sharpened shuriken in annual non-lethal battles prophesied in television and internet commercials to find the One True Wrapped Present of Destiny. It is all too much.
I am not certain if it is just me that experiences this stress. I acknowledge the pivotal role of Christmas in culture and the economy but I can’t get past the fact that all of the associated hassles and anxiety, negotiating crowded malls and motorways, maintaining social appearances, navigating intrusive personalities and frenetic events – I do not find this relaxing or truly and deeply pleasant in the ways I feel (or have been led to believe) that I perhaps should. This appears to be one KPI of happiness-metrics and blind joyful enthusiasm that I regularly (or at least – annually) fail. I am genuinely beginning to suspect that I may have been born on the wrong planet.