Halloween is over. As soon as that last firework fizzled into the sky, the sound of bells can be faintly heard jingling in the distance. The shops burn all their spooky gear in a bonfire to make way for the more festive merchandise. Huge trees grow in town squares overnight. Yes, that’s right, Christmas has come.
Back in the day, Christmas was a Christian celebration that brought families together to commemorate the birth of the baby Jesus, to reflect on the year gone by and get their children some nice gifts (maybe a train set or a few dolls). You’d sit around the roaring fire after a huge feast and play a board game for the first time in God-knows how long.
“Everyone went to mass in the morning, you got to see everyone – it was nice,” says Rose-Marie Bryan, an elderly child minder from Edenderry, Offaly. “The kids usually got what they asked for – but they didn’t ask for much, you see”.
Nowadays, Christmas is a capitalist commercial that brings families together to spend exorbitant amounts of money, ignore the year gone by, and replace the gifts you got last year. You sit around an electric fire after a rushed dinner, glued to your phone screen. The kids begin the €70 Playstation four game that will hopefully keeping them occupied until New Year’s.
“It was much easier in our time, the children needed much less. It can be very hard now, especially if you’re on a pension!” Mrs Bryan laughs as she prepares the dinner for her thirteen-year-old grandson, who is folded into his beanbag, game controller in hand.
Technology has changed the game, in every sense of the word. Kids are smarter, they have every answer at the tip of their fingers. It’s very easy to pick up a smart phone and google ‘Is Santa real?’. Technology has killed Santa – and his death brings an end to the magic of Christmas.
But don’t worry, there are others willing to fill his big, coal-crusted boots.
Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Microsoft – these companies fill Santa’s role of delivering presents to the children of the world. With the exception of children making the presents, everyone seems to be well-off. But look, elf labour isn’t as cheap as it used to be.
“More children believed in Santa back then, I think. They didn’t get half as much, but they were happier… more content in themselves. People put up decorations more sparingly, and not as early as they do now.”
These days, not only do people put up decorations in their home, but all over their social media. Facebook feeds are plastered with pictures of lush Christmas trees, everyone dying to show off how their Christmas is going to be the most Christmassy Christmas ever. Some timelines even display countdowns, each second slowly ticking away, a constant reminder that your new iPhone is nearly here.
So yes, Christmas has come, bringing with it the festive cheer that only money can buy. We’ll open our presents, we’ll spend time with our families, and their new phones, and then we’ll be lulled to sleep by copious amounts of alcohol… and just like that, Christmas will be over again.