Another observation from my long walk through Ipswich yesterday, I have made the same observation at home and don’t doubt that anyone reading can make the same observation at any corner of the UK. As you walk through the more affluent areas of town you see a sedate and elegant approach to the festive season and at this time of year you see sensible amounts of rubbish*
As you come to the lower value housing, the tight terraces and low cost flats, so the approach to the festive season becomes louder and more effusive and the rubbish discarded at this time of year includes enough wrappings and decorations to make you believe that the house is actually larger inside than it appears from the outside!
Now I’ve always looked on this with a warm smile aimed at the small homes and their effusive embracing of the season, but I no longer believe this. Firstly the more affluent houses, the small semi and detached properties, are not disposing of their decorations every year they are storing and reusing probably to offset the rising cost of their season ticket/fuel costs. It is the less affluent, those that have seen no deterioration in income, that take advantage of cheap imported decorations and views them as disposable.
Secondly, and in my opinion most importantly, the lower income households seem to have grasped a mistaken belief in materialistic love, Christmas is an opportunity to demonstrate how much you love your children by filling their bedrooms with imported plastic. This is the generation** of doorstep loans that are taken directly to poundsaver or Argos to ‘show’ the children how much you love them, this is also the generation that fills Facebook alternatively with gushing love for their bundle of joy and lurid details of drunken binging and forgotten nights.
I am not proposing for one minute that we all return to a tangerine in the bottom of a Christmas stocking, neither do I believe that coal should be a gift although Helen may seek to disagree following Andrew’s thoughtful gift! But love and support of your children is a full time job, its there all year and they can’t cope with peaks and troughs of attention. Most children would rather have support, love and time throughout the year than £50 worth of tat at Christmas which you will be paying back £200 for during the year whilst stressing at them because you ‘just want to go and get smashed but you can’t afford it’.
Kids don’t want to remember hangovers, don’t need to learn early life lessons of drunken performances or watch their parents disintegrate into juvenility through cheap alcohol, when mum goes to Iceland they want to see food not cheap booze.
Now I’m old and not of this generation, maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just a grumpy old man that can’t move with the times but I give you one more piece of supporting ‘evidence’. These same houses have the remnants and scars of heavily fuelled New Year’s Eve parties, just one week after ‘proving’ their love these parents are showing their children how drunk they can get and how hungover that makes the next day. Yes I know we all like a drink for New Years but this is not dinner party territory, not charades and canapés this is pure oblivion, I wonder how many of these parents end up in casualty with pieces of plastic toy stuck in their foot or hand.
When did we stop understanding that children want nothing more than structure, love and support? When did saving become a swear word and borrowing become the way? When did material become the only way to demonstrate love? Think hard because, my friends, we created this generation perhaps by ignorance or by their desire to rebel but they are ours so what the hell do we do now?
*an oddity of the recycling drive is that people’s rubbish is much more obvious, even sneaky bottle bank runs can’t disguise acres of cardboard
**I apologise for claiming a generation, I know in the pursuit of youth some older families follow the guide of this generation but those are people long lost to society and outside of this particular rant