Is ‘Chris-teria’ hitting new heights in this pandemic year?

Having spent about 12 of the first 18 years of my life in India, it is not surprising that Christmas and all its trappings do not dominate my life.

Actually, considering the number of non-Christians in this world, I am amazed that Christmas (and Easter) so dominate the calendar of what were, originally, Christian religious festivals.

I can only put it down to profit-inspired, advertising-stimulated ‘buy-it-now’ hysteria.

My very long memory recalls stories and nativity scenes of three wise men, a baby in a manger and gifts of frankincense and myrrh. I cannot see much of that resonating in Oz today.

Today, Mary would want her very own four-wheel drive SUV as a reward for bearing the child and ‘The Child’ would spit the dummy at the very idea of frankincense and myrrh and demand, at least, her very own miniature iPad or smartphone.

When I first arrived in Australia, I was surprised at the way in which Australians had adopted the traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas – roast turkey, plum pudding, brandy sauce, a fat, bearded man in a red suit and a sledge drawn by that most un-Australian creature, the reindeer.

It all seemed highly improbable and impractical when the temperature was 90°F in the water bag.

This year, fuelled by the pent-up urges of quarantine, self-isolation and home quarantine, ‘Chris-teria’ can be expected to reach new heights of folly and exceed all previous levels of mass hysteria and frenetic expenditure. Denied access to their favourite overseas destinations, thousands of Aussies have been desperately searching for holiday accommodation in places that BC (before corona) they would never have visited even when blind drunk.

Many well-positioned self-funded retirees, those who have ‘worked hard all our lives, paid our taxes and saved our money’ are, this year more than ever, visiting their children and holiday-letting their homes to escapees from the lockdown cities for mind-boggling sums of money.

Up here on the far north coast of NSW, we are being overwhelmed by ‘holiday refugees’ from the south and west.

It started with the invasion of the schoolies – the thousands of school-leavers determined to celebrate their ‘coming of age’ at any cost.

Unable to obtain accommodation in the more popular, and more expensive resorts-of-first-choice, such as Byron Bay, groups are renting private homes in villages and townships 70 or more kilometres away from where they really want to be.

They happily drive many kilometres to and fro each day to experience the beachside lifestyle and sniff the smoke-laden air of the more popular resorts.

When the schoolies return home, they will be replaced by their older siblings and parents.

What overseas holiday destinations miss out on this Christmas, the local ones will gain. As the somewhat cynical saying goes … ‘all the complaints of the festering season, to you too’.

Have you noticed a surge in Christmas hysteria this year? Are you trying to keep it simple?

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Written by Peter Leith

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