Perhaps Catholics can lead the way this year by resisting the commercial monster devouring Christmas, writes Madeleine Teahan.
- The Catholic Herald
Can you imagine the pressure on the individuals charged with creating this year’s advertisement from English retailer John Lewis? In 2010, when John Lewis released their incredibly clever Christmas advert, using the Billy Joel classic She’s Always A Woman, grown men wept into their Chinese take-aways, making this $10m project an incredibly hard act to follow.
This year’s advert is nothing short of bizarre. It features a rabbit befriending a bear 'who has never seen Christmas.' I won’t spoil the ending but the advert’s closing line is 'give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget' and the broad message of the advert is of course, 'this goal will be best achieved through gifts,' and the childish narrative of the advert means that that 'someone' is likely to be a child.
John Lewis are, of course, retailers and one would not expect them to convey any other message. But I couldn’t help but feel sorry for parents who are forced to tighten their belts this year and who understandably want to offer their children an unforgettable Christmas without incurring debt.
Of course, the irony is that Christmases saturated with gifts are pretty forgettable. Every year, on Boxing Day, I witness all the young children in my family receiving piles of presents. Children make Christmases memorable and it’s always nice to see them excited when it’s present time. Coming from a large family, it’s always bedlam with parents frantically writing down what there child has received and who from so they can spend January writing piles of thank you letters. Something is always lost, or a ten-pound note accidentally thrown in the bin with the wrapping paper.
The pressure of watching my nieces and nephews open their presents requires a large gin and tonic in hand so I can drink through the disappointment on their little faces and pretend it just isn’t happening. So I cannot imagine the pressure on parents and ridiculously emotive adverts such as John Lewis’s will only contribute to this desire to throw an incredibly extravagant Christmas; the Christmas their little ones 'will never forget.'
The irony is however, that the more they receive, the more they forget. One present is opened, observed and then a child’s focus will naturally move the next present in the pile.