“What’s the matter son?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know? But you look so sad, are you sure you don’t know what’s wrong?”
“I only got seven presents and my other cousins got more than me”
“Son, let’s talk…”
That was an introduction to a very meaningful conversation I had 10 years ago, with my then 4 year old son, who was genuinely saddened because he felt Santa didn’t quite come through for him. In that moment I remember feeling more powerless than Superman after exposure to Kryptonite because I just couldn’t understand how my parenting skills had failed me?
How was it possible that a child who was developed and nurtured under my guiding hand, developed a commercial sensibility? How was it possible that after only 1, 460 days on this planet my child was already equating material gain with happiness? Had I already failed four years into one of the most important roles of a lifetime?
As a parent clearly I had to shoulder the impact of responsibility for my child’s state of feeling at the time, however I underestimated the unrelenting power of media advertising. I never gave the necessary diligence to those sneaky ads that crept in between Dora the Explorer and Peppa Pig episodes.
Television is still the main staple of an advertisers diet, but those sophisticated advertisers are increasingly looking to attract an audience via online methods of persuasion, in 2002 in the U.S alone it was estimated that four to twelve year old’s have an influence over their parents to the tune of $30 billion a year, let’s not forget that those influential children turn into influential teens who are far more brand conscious.
From a logical standpoint why is there a desire to buy and receive an excessive amount of material product in December, especially when we live in an online world where products are available at any time of the year?
The origins of Christmas gift giving started way before the introduction of Amazon Prime and the most widely known point of origin was from three wise men who bought gold, frankincense and myrrh for a child? I understand the symbolic meaning of the gifts but if you are talking about the well being of a child then perhaps it would be best to provide a blanket? Exactly how wise were these men?
I’m not suggesting for a moment that we shouldn’t bask in the glow of sharing gifts and tasting all the amazing delights that will set our taste buds on fire and expand our waistlines, but let’s try and remember the people who make the effort to make the festive season so special.
I don’t actually believe the original intent of Christmas has been lost, but the meaning of Christmas has been injected with such a potent dose of commercialism it’s too easy to get seduced by the glitz. This isn’t a post designed to make parents feel bad about wanting their children to feel good, but I wonder if the gifts that were purchased this year are destined to be around next year?
But I don’t want to get too hypocritical, if Santa decides at the last minute to bring me a Samsung Galaxy S7, you won’t hear me complain, but as magical as Santa is, he still hasn’t cracked the code on the most invaluable commodity…
That being said I hope you all enjoy the time you get to spend with loved ones over this festive period.
Until next time.