(I don’t always agree with comment pieces on The Guardian, but when I do every other human being on the planet doesn’t)
Okey dokey; I’d like you fine folks to read this article by Trevor Mitchell on The Guardian, in which he argued that it is children and their demand for incredibly specific consumer goods, and the inevitable failure of their parents to provide them with these goods, that ruins Christmas, a demand put in place by ‘our over-indulgent society’.
To me, this makes perfect logical sense, although I would suggest that Christmasses aren’t ‘ruined’ to the same great extent that Mitchell suggests (they are often only damaged temporarily), but the valiant commenters of The Guardian website seem to disagree, saying ‘Kids make Christmas’ instead. They even obey the rules of the Internet by launching personal attacks on the nature of the writer for his opinion on one topic whilst hiding behind a screen of pseudonymity, with one such bastion of democracy declaring Mitchell ‘a selfish little shit’; truly he is the greater man.
As such, I would like to support Mitchell in saying that kids damage Christmas, with a key reason being the specificity of their demands. Having been a child as recently as right now, I know that we want certain things that can’t really be replaced; while my dad will be fine with socks of any colour, because he just wants socks, I want two Icon For Hire albums, but get me a Nearly Deads album and I’ll freak out, despite both bands being musically similar.
We kids feel obliged to ask for particulars because we can; society has created a holiday in which we can get anything we want, so we’re gonna want in very specific ways. If Christmas had developed as a gift-giving, not gift-getting, holiday, we’d probably be more comfortable getting any video game or any album, because the focus of the celebration would be on being thankful for someone getting us stuff. Sadly, however, the onus is on the receiving of gifts, and so we will pay great attention to the nature of these receptions.
I think a key reason for this is the bastardised Ghost of Christmas Past that Coke calls Father Christmas; in modern Christmas lore, this one figure gets us all our presents, so there can be no focus on the giver of gifts or the lengths they went to get stuff. Kids think all presents are just as easily obtained because of this figure, and so a parent getting a wrong present isn’t because of practical difficulty (as Santa’s elves make all the toys themselves) or parental misunderstanding (because kids look up to their parents regardless), but because the poor parents actively tried to make their kids’ days suck.
The insane hype leading up to Christmas also contributes to the screaminess of kids; I said a while ago that one of my favourite things about Christmas is it’s singularity – it’s just one day. However, this one day is built up to for about a month and a half before it, meaning that the easily-impressionable minds of children are consumed with two ideas: Christmas is the best thing ever, and it only takes place on one day. If that day isn’t as perfect as they think it will be, which it never is, all Hell’s going to break loose.
Sadly, I have no evidence for the craziness of children on Christmas day beyond my own experiences, which I could be making up solely for the purposes of this article, but then again, neither do you. One critical commenter said Mitchell was ‘probably … spoilt as a child’, but they have no evidence for this.
Ultimately, Mitchell is wrong in suggesting that all Christmasses are ruined by children as he doesn’t know all Christmasses; equally, someone saying of children ‘they are all wonderful’ is wrong as they definitely don’t know all kids. Although I agree with Mitchell in that I feel kids have the egotism and ignorance of both reality and other people to potentially make Christmas difficult, they lack the practical power and social influence to ‘ruin’ it, and those who are critical of the writer as a person are wrong, and those who say he is basing his ideas on too narrow an evidence base are hypocrites.
So I reckon Mitchell is right and, like him, I thank Santa that I won’t be spending Christmas with any young children this year.