Student Issues

T’is the season to spend… or is it?

Christmas. What does it mean these days? Is it all about family, friends or festivities? A mixture of all three? Or does one aspect speak to certain people more than others? 
 
The recent Quality Street ‘scandal’ to surface has brought to the fore the question of whether we have become too consumed with the materialistic aspect of Christmas and forgotten about the original qualities that make this time of year so special. 
 
Firstly, just a bit of background for those unsure which scandal I am on about, seeing as there are so many these days. 
 
A Quality Street customer who has used the tins to store decorations over the years compared the sizes of the first box she used to the latest. She discovered, much to her disappointment, that Nestle have been making the boxes smaller with each new edition. She vented her frustration at Nestle via Twitter and it made online headlines.
 
This begs the question: have people become more concerned with how much they have rather than the quality? 
 
According to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Irish people are some of the biggest spenders at this time of year when compared to other Western economies. In 2013, the Irish spent almost 965 euro per person. That is nearly twice as much as Americans, which is amazing considering how much quantity seems to be such a big factor over in the States. Remember the programme ‘My Super Sweet 16th’ that used to be on MTV?
 
Being overfed after going to a family do, meeting long, lost family members, realising you or pretty much anyone in your family can’t sing and celebrating the New Year with family, friends or a mixture of both are pretty much the core events and ideas of most people’s Christmas.
 
The materialistic aspect of Christmas has came to the fore more recently due to online shopping sites such as Amazon, which people are able to avail of cheaper deals and getting more for less.
 
Quality is better than quantity, the saying every person who has written an essay has heard at some point. In the case of Christmas, a similar case can be made. 
 
Sure, you can spend loads on presents just to make yourself look good for Instagram, etc. However, surely the main aim of buying presents at Christmas time is to buy presents for a select few people, family and friends, to show them that they mean something to you in your own way? 
 
Take the case of the mother, Mrs Tapping, from the Isle of Man who spent a whopping 1500 pounds on her 2 children and husband. They each will get to unwrap about 85 presents each.
 
Firstly, I thought there was a recession, evidently not. Secondly if you look at the picture in the article on Unilad, surely after about the 20th present, the fun and excitement won’t be the same as the first couple? It would just become a process and there wouldn’t be as much meaning to the present opening.
 
There was huge reaction to the lady’s post on Instagram of the mountain of presents, with many calling her a cow and pompous for posting the photo when others have little to nothing. Meanwhile, others felt that what she did for her kids and family at Christmas was her own business as long as she wasn’t conning the system.
 
This story highlights the issue brilliantly. Is it possible that quantity over quality and having a better Christmas than your neighbour means spending more than they did? Each to their own I say. 
 
So what if the Quality Street boxes are getting smaller, so what if your neighbour appears to have bought enough presents for a lifetime of holidays. 
 
It would be an awful Christmas if you spent so much time worrying about and comparing yourself to others. Sure it’s nice to be able to splash out at Christmas, if that’s the way you do things and it makes you happy. 
 
You could receive 1 present or a 100 and still have a brilliant Christmas. Christmas means different things to everyone and we celebrate it in different ways. Ultimately, it is the core idea that is the same across the board and it’s the small differences which make it Christmas to you. 
 
Others may not understand why you do such things as buying 300+ presents or getting annoyed by the size of the Quality Street boxes, but as Mrs Tapping puts it, “I love the fact I can work hard all year to give my kids and my family this kind of Christmas. It is what we have always done and what we will continue to do.” 
 
It’s the last part that is most important – it’s their Christmas tradition.
 
By worrying about what others do at Christmas time is how people forget the true values of Christmas: spending time with family and friends, enjoying yourself, relaxing and not being keyboard warriors just because you don’t like the way someone else celebrates Christmas or appears to get annoyed over something as trivial as a sweet box.
 
And just think, the Nestle Marketing team must be over the moon by how much traction and attention their product has received so close to Christmas and they didn’t have to do a thing!
 
Perhaps we should remember this on Christmas: “A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.” – Lionel Shriver.