Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bah Humbug!

Well its that time of year again, where we are supposed to offer Merry Christmas wishes to one and all…


Bah Humbug!

I have to admit, I am not a fan of the ‘silly season’.

Of course I loved it as a kid, all the prezzies and time off school – the best time of the year!

Now as an adult, I find the whole thing an absolutely awful time. Over commercialised, in your face, stressed and harassed people everywhere, queues a mile long at any shops you are trying to go to, whether its for Xmas shopping or just the mundane items you need day to day, traffic everywhere and all the car parks full…

It’s just an excuse for the stores to fleece us of money, buying more and more each year, for the 101 relatives, friends and assorted hangers on who come out of the wood work…, and trying to figure out what the heck to get them this year. Do you go the ‘surprise’ route, or ask them what they want. Always a dilemma? Commercialism gone mad!

I recall one year when I went to visit my ol’ granny and mum. One of granny’s friends turned up unexpectedly, and she had a present for me. Bugger, I hadn’t planned for that, so mum had to sneak off, wrap up the ear-rings I had just given her and sneak them back to me to give to granny’s friend. I felt absolutely awful, and I think that was just about the straw that broke the donkeys back for me so to speak.

I am not a religious person, so that whole angle is lost on me, and I think I am not the only one in our growing secular society…, and then theres the whole political correctness thing these days with our multicultural societies - is it offensive to certain religeons to have this whole Christmas thing flung at them? But I guess if you choose to live in a country that has its roots in Christianity, and celebrates Christmas, then I guess all I can say is, "When in Rome..."

I think my perspective changed when suddenly you become the one having to empty your wallet and bounce your credit card repeatedly off the rev limiter… That and the fact that I work in retail. The busiest bloody awful time of year for staff in any retail outlet. Add to that the medical requirements down at your local pharmacy, where everyone thinks you’re going to be closed forever, and thus everyone needs all their prescription items right now, just in case…

When Xmas day finally arrives, and the store closes you get a day off to try and rest and recuperate. But no, you have to watch over excited kids ripping open parcels, then having to find out how the Transformer works or where you put the batteries, or heck, even how you get the damn toy out of the box in the first place. Then you have to get on with a massively over-indulgent meal.

Once you’ve got over that, lie around feeling too full to do anything, or too inebriated to care…

Add to all this the time of the season – winter, at least back in the UK as it was. An Xmas card White Christmas is rarer than hens teeth… more likely just freezing cold, wind, rain, ice, and slush. If a White Xmas did arrive it usually caused traffic chaos as roads were closed because the council forget to get the gritters out in time, the trains couldn’t run on the snow laden lines and buses couldn't manage the steep snow covered hills...

Quite honestly for me, you can keep the whole thing. If they banned Christmas, and just gave us a ‘seasonal holiday’ instead, I’d be more than happy.

Thankfully, since migrating to New Zealand, at least I don’t have to put up with the crappy weather, and can enjoy an easy BBQ lunch on Xmas day!

Personally, I am reasonable solvent, so if I want something, I buy it. I don’t wait till Xmas or birthday to ask for it as a prezzy…

I guess at the end of the day, you do it for the kids and hope you get through it with as little stress and hassle as possible and try and minimise the effects of the hole in your finances – Happy New Year – what a way to start the year; "I’ve got no money left till pay day and then I have to pay off the credit card and the mortgage is due the next week. Oh Joy!"

So what’s a war-gamers perspective on all this?

Well I guess there’s always the chance your significant other may surprise you with a box of soldiers, but she is probably just as aware as you are of the backlog that already is the lead & plastic mountain, so that’s probably out of the question… so it will probably be socks and handkerchiefs again… ;-)

Then there’s perhaps the occasional pondering about history and Christmas’s past,… I am always intrigued about the tales of opposing soldiers through WW2 & WW1 hearing each other across no-mans land trying to enjoy Xmas and even exchanging gifts… and then the next day trying to kill each other again… and of course there is the famous tale of the impromptu football match in no-mans land in WW1, made into a movie called “Joyeux Noel” - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424205/ I haven’t seen it yet, so welcome any reviews…

If we go back to where it started it becomes clear what we celebrate now in the West, is a hodge podge of many factors; a mix of religion, mythology, pagan rituals of the winter solstice, and commercialised characters – Santa Claus for one as the image we now know and ‘love’, having been created by the Coca Cola company back in the 50’s.

My significant other, well knows my opinions on the matter, and bless her cotton socks, tries to make it as easy as possible for the ol’ grumpy of the household; buying the prezzies, putting the tree and decorations up, organising childcare activities while they are off and we are both still at work (retail remember, especially in a pharmacy that opens 7 days a week and open ALL the public holidays) etc etc.

However, I have been very good this year, and even bought the ‘Best Christmas album in the world ever’ – just coz its got Snoopy on! ;-)

So as a final sign off for the year, have a Merry or Grumpy ol’ Xmas, whatever takes your fancy. I hope you get all the prezzies you wanted, and if you can remember, spare a thought for the poor buggers slaving away in retail, or those dedicated folks staffing emergency services; police, fire-fighters, ambulance, hospital and related medical staff etc etc, who may not be getting a day off on Xmas!


  1. I spent a few decades working retail in a game store . . . the only real "saving grace" for the holiday madness was that almost all of our customers were "happy shoppers" . . . but believe me, it can get super-busy in a game store in December.

    I do hope that your holiday ends up being a sane and pleasant one, sir.

    -- Jeff

  2. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!(LoL!)


  3. But Scott, don't hold back. Tell us what you REALLY think about Christmas? ;->

    I hear you brother. I like the break and the food that the season brings (well, for me anyway) but the rest is pure bollocks. My wife works management in retail and she's completely gutted by the 25th. Not a spark of human kindness in her by Boxing Day and I really can't blame her.

    Anyway, I hope The Season passes you swiftly and painlessly.



  4. I used to have a similar attitude, Scott, but since having kids to buy for that has all changed a little bit. Also, being a teacher on summer holidays means that this time of the year is actually quite relaxed compared to the life of the rest of the mob!
    Have a good one, mate - even if that means sneaking into the games room with a beer and shuffling some painted lead around while no-one is looking just to keep your sanity!

  5. Thanks for the feedback guys, good to know I'm not the only ol' grumpy out there...


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