Stephen Fahey: Elfish Greed

With just under ninety days to go to Christmas you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s far away. But as October looms, so do the elves. Halloween is no longer the safety net it used to be. The elves conquered those shores two years ago. Now we simply charge headlong into the tinsel minefields without as much as an upward glance. Just the way the elves like it. And who can blame them? They put a lot of work into making it so. And elves too have mouths to feed and alimony payments to make and parking fines to contest and TV shows to binge watch.

The usual tech and gadgets and video games and shoes and itchy woolly jumpers from granny will all make an appearance. As will turkey and mushy peas and hangovers and paper hats. The elves already have plenty of those in stock and they’re just waiting for October to land so they can pummel us with ads for the „true” meaning of Christmas, i.e. material enrichment. They’ll even use the actual meaning, quality time with loved ones, as a tool to flog their various wares. But they won’t encourage the facts of community for anything but a buck. So beware.

We know better, of course. Deep down we all love that feeling of sharing happiness on Christmas morning more than anything else. As kids we’re all about the elfin gains, of course, but when we grow up we reminisce on the smiles and the air of magic shared – without remembering each specific trinket gifted to us. We all know that it isn’t the wrapping paper or the stocking, or even the pagan iconology hijacked by Christianity to gain more followers way back in the illiterate dark ages. We feel it in ourselves, in that most private corner of our souls. And by definition no amount of shinny or expensive things can replace that feeling. Because it’s a feeling, not a tangible object that can be held or packaged or sold.

So as the elves throw up their flags and start the parade of enticements this week, remember that feeling of seeing friends and family walk through your door to spend time with you. When you hear each jingle and see smiling actors on television pretending to be a happy family, let their image not imprint a sense of want for their elfish goods, but a sense of the actual worth of Christmas. Let yourself turn that annoying, one millionth rerun of an ad on the radio from a brainwashing call to reach into your wallet to a reminder of the swell of satisfaction when you sit down to eat with your loved ones and make the memories that your future self will look back on with a warm heart. May the greed of the system remind you that you are loved.
Stephen Fahey

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