Ho Ho Ho.
It feels a bit odd when people wish you Merry Christmas in the middle of December, but the marathon has kicked off even earlier. I think the first person to wish me Merry Christmas said this on the 3rd of December. And although this is supposed to be the season of joy and happiness, in a somewhat magic way as of the 1st of December Dubliners lost their usual easy come easy go attitude and turned into an army of angry shopaholics.
Shopping became part of Dublin life a long time before I had noticed a poster on Dublin Bus SHOPPING culture ENTERTAINMENT. The add was supposed to promote all three of the above, but the design of the poster was suggesting that Dublin equals to Shopping culture and Entertainment. Skip culture. Unfortunately quite often it is exactly like that. Unless you come to Dublin for some fiddle tunes.
A few weeks ago my sister was asking me to suggest a museum where she could bring her 12-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son (they've been living in Ireland for over 7 years). Natural History Museum had been closed until further notice and I couldn‘t come up with any other ideas. You might accuse me of ungrounded bellyaching again, but this reminds me of a visit to Van Gogh’s Museum in Amsterdam, where they have special guide books for children. Kids are being asked to find particular details or colours or shapes in the paintings, observe differences and similarities with comprehensive and unfussy explanations. Last weekend I was in London and while strolling through Tate Modern and National Portrait Gallery I encountered quite a few parents and teachers with children. Looking at a dinosaur replica is one thing, but teaching to read paintings is another.
Anyway. Although constant state of shopping (despite the reason of need) - another attribute of the West - can be encountered in Dublin throughout the whole year (think Henry Street for instance), it reaches its pinnacle in December with Merry Christmas as a driving force behind it.
According to Deloitte’s annual consumer survey Irish households will spend on average §1,431 on Christmas this year. Compare this with §411 in the Netherlands; §420 in Germany and §556 in France. Of the Irish figure, a total of §720 will be spent on gifts, §431 on food with §279 on socialising.
My friend’s colleague who keeps constantly complaining about the lack of money and lives with her mother took a loan from the bank - 3500 euros - which she will spend on Christmas gifts. Next year she’ll be working for the sake of Christmas.
As I was looking for a coat last week I realized that the virus of “thingism” (a desire for things) is highly contagious. Indeed there are so many pretty things out there that cry to be bought. The handbags and the glad rags. Things which you desire, but you will never need. And have you noticed - although this is the season of happiness - everybody seems to be angry! Spend three hours in a shopping mall and you will feel as exhausted as a mountain climber who has just made it to the peak of Everest. That virus of thingism sucks out your spirits and leaves you a replica of consumerism fighting for those gifts. Although it is supposed to be a season of joy and happiness. Ho ho ho you’re in the army now.
Ho Ho Ho.