Christmas Is Always Coming

So, let’s talk about Christmas, it’s obligatory with it being less than ten days away at this point and I do plan to discuss my actual day of Christmas with you on Christmas as it happens, a sort of sum up like last year followed by a retrospective of my year as a whole. However, for now, let’s discuss Christmas, in particular why some may view me as something of a Scrooge on the topic. I never really partake in festivities to the same degree as my friends – no antlers on my head, no Christmas jumper waiting to be sprung out come December and you’ll never get me singing along to Jingle Bells. A variety of reasons surround this, first and foremost is my social anxiety which insists that although everyone else in the room looks like a colossal dickhead wearing red noses and tinsel scarves, I will be the most dickheadiest of dickheads if I join in, that somehow my foolishness isn’t just fun, it’s utterly disgusting and degrading to watch and people will remember the display as a reason to hold me in slightly less high regard. On the other hand, there are some other reasons I’m not huge on Christmas as a whole, which I’ll cover over the course of this post.

Now, don’t be mistaken in thinking I want December 25th to be just another day on the calendar and we don’t bother at all, that’s not it, I think it’s nice that we all agree to dedicate some time of the year to togetherness and family time and so on – though it sucks to the nth degree not all of us get that. Christmas, forced onto the mainstream by a previously Christian dominated society and now kept around for people of all walks of life due to a combination of tradition and marketing, is fun when you’re in the right setting for it with the right people and resources and so on – hard to be miserable at Christmas when you have all you want. The problem is just that though, Christmas is such a beacon of light and joy that some of us expect it to cast out the negativity simply the grace of existing and we can overlook the pains, struggles and loneliness of our fellow men because we think “It’s Christmas, someone will do something for them and they’ll probably feel better with a belly full of turkey and some nice new trinkets to unwrap”. Here then. we have that phrase, that phrase that is the bane of my life every single year between the end of October and December 26th.

“BUT IT’S CHRISTMAS!”

You know what? So fucking what if it is? We’re aware what time of year it is, which by the way, I resent for creeping earlier and earlier into the year, partly because I’m a November baby and partly because it applies the pressure to be cheerful and excited on depressed folk like me before they’re even in the right frame of mind to adopt false happiness. Christmas isn’t some be all, end all cure to the woes of the world, whatever Bob Geldof insists on telling you. The reality is Santa doesn’t deliver world peace, bosses don’t always let things slide because the big day is coming and not every broken heart finds someone willing to bring them out of the cold, let’s not delude ourselves. If we perpetuate Christmas as being the best thing to happen in a year, it loses that status because we don’t need to do anything, it becomes that for the consumerist masses just by being Christmas – people already have their Christmas spirit pumping without the need for volunteering in a soup kitchen or checking in on their lonesome neighbour who doesn’t have kids to come visit or whatever. By doing that, Christmas becomes less and less like the fairy tales and slips more and more into what cynics like me have been calling it for years – a mass of over-excited meatheads stuffing their faces and buying shit.

So, Christmas lovers, maybe you’re think I’m being a Grinch hmm? I just don’t understand because I’m a misery right? Maybe you’re right, this year is seeing me be the most depressed I’ve been at Christmas time since my schoolboy days, for reasons too personal to disclose here. However, last Christmas (Don’t), I wasn’t as bad, I had money, friends and even though Christmas didn’t happen at my home, I did my fair share of philanthropic gestures and gift giving and even then I STILL wrote an article about how overhyped Christmas is and how unfair it is on children in particular. I love Christmas and that’s speaking as a staunch Atheist to whom Christmas has no religious meaning to give remembrance for, it’s literally just “Winter is shit but hey presents and food happen!”. but I still love this idea of a time in which we stop to think about people and how we can express our love for them, my only concern is that perhaps we lost sight of that.

You know the shpiel here, that Christmas has become about buying affection rather than earning it, in showing love through consoles and laptops rather than actual words of kindness or shows of support and many of you will roll your eyes at the goody two-shoe deal here but it is so important we remember that and we must remember that Christmas isn’t a time of joy for us all, no matter how much you wish it to be. Tragic story time, my Dad when I was young, despised Christmas, so much that seeing decorations filled him with dread and sorrow because to him, it didn’t mean joy and laughter, it meant a time of spending money and fulfilling other people’s dreams because if he didn’t, he had to disappoint them. We had no decorations in our house until Christmas Day itself and they’d come down again afterwards as soon as Dad could manage it, just so he didn’t have to see that tree for one second longer than he had to. I didn’t understand as a child, I don’t think my Dad ever realised that as a kid, I was always happy at Christmas with anything he got me – probably because kids are so shit at being grateful for stuff. We’ve always lived on the breadline in this home and to then have December 25th pop up “JUST A HEADS UP, YOU BETTER SPEND AT LEAST LIKE… £500 ON GIFTS OR PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU DON’T LOVE THEM” when you can barely afford £5, it’s terrifying and makes you resent Christmas as being a toll, a challenge to PROVE your love and selflessness, as if everything else you did all year didn’t count.

Christmas is getting a little too big for its own boots here and stomping on the poor and the heartbroken, it brings joy not only because we are all given what we want and are giving those we love what they want but because everyone looks happy when you push the unhappy ones out of the photo frame. I’m not even going to try and count the number of times my depression has been muddled up with a lack of Christmas spirit, that somehow all this obnoxious corporate money-grabbing and ugly jumper parties should be the strongest mood medication I could ever want. Somehow though, it is not but I still partake in Christmas – gifts have been bought, nice gestures done without the hope of them being returned have been performed and on Christmas Day, as is my tradition, I contact everyone I consider a friend to at least give season’s greetings.

So, what am I saying here, you ask? The article has sort of read as a general guilt-tripping Santa-bashing bitterness sandwich but I guess ultimately, I want you to read this and remember that Christmas in and of itself is not special, Christmas is as special as we make it for ourselves and others. If you think buying lots of stuff is all it takes, well done, you’re nothing more than a patsy Amazon and Wal-Mart will bleed dry year upon year, but Christmas is about charity and charity isn’t just giving to the homeless, it’s showing love. PLEASE take this time to check on people and that they’re ok, if that’s the only genuinely good thing you do that isn’t all about presents, please make sure that miserable fuckers like me are at least safe and comfortable this Christmas. I guarantee you that everyone who hates Christmas has a reason for it and it’s no good telling them to just cheer up; do something that makes this time of year a little easier for them.

Merry Christmas.

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Chains Of Avarice

Trigger Warnings – None

Christmas is coming, unless you’re Australian, it already came, or you don’t celebrate Christmas in which case I apologise, this article probably won’t interest you. As I was, Christmas is coming, it’s almost here for us here in the UK and so in honour of that occasion, I plan to do two little Christmassy posts, today and tomorrow. Yes, I am that dedicated to you my readers that I will be giving you all the gift of two festive posts, I hope it beats another ugly tie or pair of socks. Granted, your feet will be no warmer but perhaps your mind will be a little more open.

Right off the bat, I’m going to assume we all know the story of the Christmas Carol, if not then you either REALLY don’t celebrate Christmas to the point of not acknowledging it even exists or when someone mentions fiction, you look confused like “People write stuff that’s not true? I thought that was just The Sun?”. Zinger, I know. Anyway, as a brief recap the Christmas Carol is the story of a greedy businessman called Scrooge being visited by the ghost of his dead friend Jacob telling him to change his ways or spend eternity bound in the chains of his greed and so Scrooge is visited by spirits that show him visions of his past, present and future which upset, disturb and enlighten the old miser so that come Christmas morning, he becomes a jolly philanthropist like none other. I’ve sometimes questioned if Scrooge actually changed or if he was just scared straight, certainly in the actual novel he has a hellish time of it meeting his unwanted daughters, seeing his own gravestone and realising that everyone who has ever been important to his life resents him, but he keeps the spirit of the season well and being scared into good will by visions of chains is much akin to having the moral imperative of virtuous behaviour for fear of fire and torture in eternity.

Erhem, pretentious musings aside, I love the Christmas Carol story, it’s one thing I have always wanted to act in but never have (Incidentally, as either Scrooge himself or Bob Cratchit), my acting career has never really existed beyond some dynamic reading and a bit part in a school play. My favourite interpretation of the story you ask? Well, I love the one filmed in Shrewsbury but I most commonly watch the Muppet version, I like how it brings forward the core message of the story in a way children and parents can watch, it’s devoted to the story but not too seriously and it’s much more visually pleasing with colourful puppets and impressive acting than say, plain old animated versions for kids – we all know kids engage more with anthropomorphic characters than emulated realism. I bring up the Christmas Carol because I feel there’s an important part of the message people forget and that is just why Scrooge needed to change his ways. You’ll probably shrug and say “Come on Jake, he was greedy, all he cared about was money and he was a bitter old man ignoring those in need, that’s a bad guy, the story is his redemption”. Key point there, he was greedy, the story is about how his GREED is a curse, not his money. Greed has a much broader definition than a lust for gold and silver.

I often get called Scrooge for not being festive out the wazoo as I don no antlers, wear no silly jumpers and don’t constantly burst with excitement, nor do I sing along to any carol or song but I think a modern Scrooge would actually take part in those things, Scrooge is not a caricature as simple as “Don’t like wreaths of holly? You grinch!”, give Dickens more credit than that, Scrooge is a man made bitter by years of isolation and he lusts for money because money doesn’t betray people, money makes sense, money can be understood in ways you can’t apply to people. So why would a modern Scrooge enjoy Christmas? The focus of greed has changed in the past few years, money is something we all yearn for, even those who have it, so judge someone by their drive for financial success is plain hypocrisy but what is truer now than it was in Dickens’ time is a greed for consumerism, a desire for receiving gifts and getting what we want, ensuring our Christmas is the best it can be, a modern Scrooge is the guy who has a clear cut Christmas list you can’t deviate from or he’ll begrudge, a man who doesn’t always return kind gestures at this time of year, a man who complains when he receives the accursed wrong gift. I’m looking at you entitled children of the world, your parents got you the wrong make of iPhone? You’re the Scrooge now, your selfish greed will be your undoing.

At this time of year, some of us go overboard, in particular parents wanting to spoil their children rotten with brilliant presents, which can present a problem. I saw a Facebook post recently that made me think, parents shouldn’t label games consoles and bikes as being gifts from Santa because then less fortunate children might question as to why Santa got them some new jumpers and a couple of action figures whilst his best friend Timmy got an XBOX One and an iPad. Maybe this is the poor boy in me speaking but I resent such spoilt children and people who do so, it is excessive and only fuels this greed in the child, who will expect more and more as the years go on. I got games consoles at Christmas, sure, but it wasn’t mine, it was a shared gift and even then Dad would tell us “If you want something so big for Christmas, Santa will have to bring you less gifts to make room!”, which we agreed to, even by needy child logic that seemed fair. Do not make your children slaves to greed and if you must buy them big gifts, tell them it was you that bought it, not Santa, make it fair and help your child realise that the gift is not just a reward for good behaviour, but a sacrifice and an investment made by those that love them and should be revered as such. If you say Santa gets them everything, their love is for Santa that day, not the parent and they feel they deserve everything they get in life, which is a terrible lesson to teach because it’s not true – good work can go unrewarded.

Greed and impatience are cornerstones of our society really, aren’t they? That cannot be avoided but if it could, this is the time of year for it. We all neglect certain people in our lives, mostly those that are strangers to us, but let us not forget that it was greed that doomed Scrooge, not money, Scrooge didn’t find salvation in throwing every shilling he had into a lake, he found it in selflessness – buying a feast for his loyal clerk, rekindling the love lost in his relationship with his nephew, donating to charity – money in itself can be used as a force for good if the person that holds it knows to keep the spirit of selflessness in their heart

As always readers, thanks for your time and a Merry Christmas to you all! Please, spread the word, let us remember what this time of year is all about! Remember to like, comment and follow me on Facebook at my official page, call it a gift to me from you!

http://www.facebook.com/oldmanwolfeofficial

A Load of B.S

Trigger Warnings – Strong language throughout

So, I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, Cards Against Humanity pulled off the biggest commercial prank of the year when on Black Friday this year 30,000 customers bought boxes of literal bull shit at $6 a pop only to respond with cries of horror and outrage when they received exactly what they paid for. Cards Against Humanity has always been a bit risqué and out there, it’s a party game for people with a very broad and very weird sense of humour and this latest venture on their part only reminds us that they are not your typical company.

So why the bullshitting? Like, literal bullshitting here, this article will be full of that term so brace yourself. Well, Cards Against Humanity have pulled a prank like this before, last year on Black Friday they actually increased their prices on the day of the mega sale craze and to their surprise, sales spiked! I should point out, this wasn’t a subtle bump up of the price tag when nobody was looking, this was advertised as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime price spike!’ and people went for it as if just seeing the phrase ‘once in a lifetime’ set off their shopping senses and deprived them of their normal ones. Co-creator Max Temkin said “We all really hate Black Friday, it’s just kind of a horrible day, it comes after this day you’re supposed to be thankful for what you have and then it’s just this whole huge media spectacle of people fighting each other to save $50 on a TV.”

Pleasantly refreshing to hear someone in business say that, it’s certainly something I’ve never much liked nor do I like how Britain has adopted the idea without Thanksgiving so just out of nowhere comes this one day of “70% off everything, kill your fellow man for a cheap laptop!” and boom. Admittedly Shrewsbury, being a sleepy town, was rather calm and there wasn’t exactly hordes of angry shoppers but we had our fair share of news footage showing people punching each other and hitting each other across the head with lightweight televisions and such. Hardly the American big beat ’em up brawl we all know from the news but still, it’s not far off, give it a few years. I don’t see why Britain aspires to be America in this instance except to compete with online business but which idiots were so desperate to make a bit more money that they saw crowds of people gouging eyes out over XBOX consoles and said “Yup, let’s do that”

The company hasn’t profited from this so for those of you about to make a joke about dirty-dealing or a shitty business strategy, the boxes were sold for $6 each but $5.80 of that was to cover the postage and packaging, the other $0.20 went straight to a charity that supplies farm animals to areas of poverty. The stunt wasn’t planned as a charity drive, that idea came second to the idea of “I wonder if we can actually sell these idiots a box of literal bull crap, that’d be funny”. A cautionary tale then perhaps? A tale that we as consumers are ravenous idiots too keen to throw money at anything that catches our attention, 30,000 people literally bought boxes of poo because they thought they were buying special edition game cards or rare collectible items that’d never be made again or such like, how stupid can you get? The item description did include the words ‘literal’ and ‘bull faeces’, this wasn’t a con or a trick, they violated no trade standards and haven’t actually done anything wrong – you can’t call it exploiting someone if you gave them a big warning sign and they pushed it out of the way shouting “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”

Consumerism has become a real problem with our society, we fight and feud for material rubbish and it’s such a corrupt influence even the Pope weighed in on unbridled consumerism being the force that is tearing the planet apart. Hard to argue, what with deforestation, constant Amazon gifts going back and forth over the big blue. I doubt Cards Against Humanity wanted us all to sit in the corner and think about what we’re doing with our lives but maybe this’ll shake some sense into people… then again, the public has been caught out two years running, I’m keen to see what CAH has in mind for Christmas 2015 – boxed killer bees or something.

So there you go, that’s tonight’s article – total bull… no, actually no, I won’t, every fucking article I read ended with the line total bullshit, I will not end with that same line of total bullshit, I refuse to end this article on the words total bullshit.

Fleshed Out Argument

Hello my little rantees… rantettes… I don’t have a name for you yet but I’ll think of one eventually as a lot of you are no doubt thinking I refer to everyone as dipshit or smeghead. Moving right along, I realise I’ve been pretty quiet on the rant front so that’s going to have to change now isn’t it? I don’t want you all getting bored or getting your hopes up that I might have died between the last post and this one; as if that would stop me ranting… I’m feeling a little better as of late, recently went to a party that turned out to be great fun and it all went without a hitch, making a nice change from the regular tedium of disappointment.

Right then, let’s get things moving then shall we? I’m here today to tackle another demographic group that gets under my skin, which is ironic because that is exactly the sort of thing they’re against. Pacifists, don’t get passively disgruntled because it’s not you I have beef with, it is self righteous vegetarians. I need to explain here that by self-righteous vegetarians, I mean the ones that chastise anyone holding a burger and call you a cold blooded killer. Vegetarians, I am not a cold blooded killer because I think summer is all about barbecues, I’m a cold blooded killer because I stab people in the face (loud cough!) I am not a cold blooded killer at all in fact.

Don’t get me wrong here ok? I personally don’t feel satisfied with an evening meal if it is without meat and whilst I appreciate there are some of us out there who live on tofu and lettuce, I’m not one of those people. By all means, feel free to live on greens and good will because then there’s more cows for me to devour but don’t judge me for it! I am responsible in my consumption, making sure to eat free range eggs and won’t eat meat from battery farmed animals, plus you can’t point the finger at me and say ‘You’re killing God’s creatures’ for a number of reasons – I am not the one putting two shells in Daisy’s face, Farmer McGee is and I just eat the dead remains plus, by that logic, you are too because God created plants too, if you believe that. You can’t claim moral superiority either, because if you love the animals so much, don’t eat their dinner for them will you? I’m sure that fluffy bunny would rather die on a full stomach as opposed to slowly starving as your stupid hippy ass eats his last meal claiming to be Saint Vegetaballbrain of Pussydon.

I have more to say though, because not only are some of these people angry with me for eating the animal’s innards, but then they go on to say I’m exploiting them when I wear leather or eat a cheese sandwich. You know, the Native Americans had an argument similar to this with the European Settlers. The European Settlers would kill buffalo for fur and food then dump the bones and run yet called the Native Americans savages, despite the fact that said savages found a use for every part of the buffalo’s anatomy as either a food source, a domestic good or a tool. I believe that if an animal is going to be killed for meat products anyway, leave as little waste as possible. I don’t wear fur though, I don’t like it is all, but I love leather and eggs, cheese, milk, wool and all the rest of it. Obviously, you don’t kill a cow or a sheep for milk and wool but some have felt the need to say I’m abusing this animal and robbing it of something it owns. A sheep needs a shave and a cow needs milking and just because humanity benefits from these tasks, it doesn’t make a man an exploiter of animals. You want to leave cows and sheep to be by themselves do you? Go for it, your sheep will get themselves caught in fences and probably get heat strokes, and your cows will have serious mobility issues. If there is a God, he didn’t accidentally make milk and wool useful for humanity by happy coincidence, and I’m pretty sure he gave us dominion over the natural world so that we would live in an eternal give and take relationship with our planet.

Of course, even in the absence of a God, the natural world is still our responsibility. If humanity wants to call itself the smartest thing on the planet, then it should accept the mantle of carers for all creatures and by killing animals, not only do we feed our young and make clothes to shield ourselves from the cold, but we avoid overpopulation and in the case of things such as cheese, milk and eggs, we offer health benefits to animals. I have my limits – I wouldn’t eat an endangered animal and I think we have to ensure our livestock sourcing is sustainable or we all end up fucked. Vegetarians, you can go ahead and avoid burgers as sins against your bovine brethren, but you aren’t greater beings for it. You’re fallible creatures too, as prone to stupidity and poor choice as anyone else and claiming that your dietary choice is your redeeming factor is not a good call because by that logic, Hitler can be forgiven too. Yep, I played that card, your flat teeth must be grinding against a leaf pretty hard right now hmm? Oh what’s that? You have pointy ones too? Oh yeah, you’re A BORN PREDATOR. I’m following the natural order here, meat is made to be eaten, it has ‘eat’ in the name. Does celery have the word eat in it? Rice? Protein substitute? No? Pity…

I’m not against vegetarianism or veganism (Is that the word for it? Vegandom? Veganhood?) but what I am against is when a vegetarian or vegan berates a meat eater as some sort of barbarian from yesteryear and scorns anyone who likes the taste of turkey as a villain. Humans are predators, but also resourceful creatures that have learnt not to waste what they take from nature… for the most part. Eat what you want, it doesn’t make you any less of a human being… unless you’ve been drinking Extract of Ood, you should probably kick that habit fast. I’ll be furiously consuming a live pig as you read this.