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I don't especially like the Christmas and New Year season

By Brendan O'Reilly - posted Tuesday, 29 December 2020

They say that men get grumpier as they get older but I don't think this is the reason why I don't care a lot for Christmas and New Year.  In truth, I have felt ambivalent about the holiday season since I was a teenager.

Fundamentally, Christmas is only really justifiable as a religious festival, and I am not a religious person in any way.  My wife is religious, and my concession to her is to generally make an annual visit to church in her company on Christmas Day.  Australia is now mainly a secular country with "progressive" governments and companies now pushing "happy holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas".

I do enjoy some Christmas gatherings.  I personally prefer get-togethers of smaller rather than larger groups.  As I like a drink, the need to avoid drink-driving is a potential dampener but, as my wife is a light drinker, letting her drive overcomes this potential problem.


In addition to catching up with friends, a final plus of the festive season is turkey, the king of white meats, (but only the breast mind you!).  Unlike in America, turkey is largely only eaten at Christmas in Anglophile countries.

When I lived in Sydney (decades ago) and was single, I used to play golf.  One of the fringe benefits of Christmas was that you could play a round of golf with some friends on Christmas Day, with the course virtually all to yourself and for free.  Back then, (before the time of mass Christmas shutdowns) the best time to be at work also used to be from Christmas to mid January, when you could work without disturbance and a long lunch went unnoticed.

Christmas and New Year also come with a lot of negatives.

One of my pet hates is that adults insist on telling children lies about the existence of Santa Claus.  When I was little, I could not avoid noticing a different Santa in each department store.  The explanation, I was told, was that these were Santa's brothers, and the real Santa was still at the North Pole preparing for Christmas.  Older children often perpetuate the lies by pretending to continue to believe in Santa to ensure that the stream of Christmas gifts continues for another year.

I am not a fan of gift giving, especially among adults.  The problem is that others give you a gift you don't want and (even with the best of intentions) you feel compelled to give another (often unwanted) item in return.  I let it be known that I don't expect gifts at Christmas but it does not always work.

A further problem with gifts at Christmas is that you can buy the same items cheaper at the Boxing Day sales so that the gift-giving exercise is even more unthrifty.  Also, these days business shutdowns are now so general that, if you need anything urgently done, you often have to wait until mid January.


This brings me to another issue: the cost of holidaying.

Families with school-age children have little choice but to take leave during the school holidays, particularly from late December to mid January (Covid permitting!).  The problem is that all the prices go up during this period and holiday destinations become crowded.  Every year without fail, petrol prices go up at Christmas (and Easter as well).  Similarly, holiday accommodation and airfares generally get booked-out, are seasonally much more expensive, and popular destinations are crowded.  Now that our children are grown up, I prefer to holiday off-peak.

I suspect that Christmas is the worst time of year for the lonely and the poor.  Despite the best efforts of some charities, the children of poor families get a raw deal from Santa, and can readily see the more lavish gifts bestowed on children from better-off families.

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About the Author

Brendan O’Reilly is a retired commonwealth public servant with a background in economics and accounting. He is currently pursuing private business interests.

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