Have we Lost the Meaning of Christmas?

On Christmas eve we did a last minute top up shop of milk and fruit etc. and it was quite overwhelming just how busy the shop was and how much people were loading into their trolleys. We’re talking about people clearing shelves just so they’ve got all the cheese, I found it quite strange, I tried to picture how many people everyone must be catering for, because surely the amounts that were being bought would feed more than a football team? And would intoxicate a small army with the booze. In reality, there may be a few family members joining them over the Christmas period, but probably not as many people to justify FIVE boxes of crackers (wtf? We didn’t even get one) Our Christmas food shop seemed a little sad in comparison, our little chicken, our veg, a couple of bottles of Aldis finest fizz and a few nibbles. That was all we needed, well, I say need quite loosely.

The amount we bought then is still going strong three days later (other than the fizz, obviously). So I wonder how much others have left?

Anyway, when we were paying for our shopping, we were served by a fairly miserable woman. Which was ironic since she was dressed all in tinsel and bells, you’d assume she’d be festive, but I get it, it sucks to be working Christmas eve. Then as we were making small talk she said how incredibly unfair it is that they’ll be back in the store again boxing day. Then she mumbled ”people have forgotten the meaning of Christmas, it’s all greed”. That stuck with me. What did she mean? Was she generalising today’s society or ‘youngsters these days’ eurgh I hate that saying, but I’m sure I’ll use the phrase at some point.

But what is the Meaning of Christmas?

For me it’s time off for Mr Firstooth, a second pair of hands and so much family time that it makes us all gooey. It’s about that big dinner, the one people plan for months in advance, is eating in minutes and has millions joining gyms in the new year (not me, embrace the wobble). The gifts we give and receive, come on, we all love a present don’t we?

The meaning of Christmas is traditionally a religious holiday, the birth of Christ. Although I believe, I don’t actively follow a religion, so for us it’s all about family, memories and cherished traditions (plus gaining a stone and getting off your trolley at least once).

So, at first the woman’s comment about how the meaning of Christmas has been forgotten bothered me. We’ve not lost the meaning of Christmas, I kept thinking. But I understand her now. I can see why she was so pissed off about her working hours and everyone loading their trolleys at Christmas whilst she’s scanning it all through. She’s working and seeing in front of her the families buying their food for the Christmas period. The Christmas period that she will be working, away from her family.

Christmas is afterall about family time, even if you’re religious, the whole holiday is based around family. When you work in the service industry, you don’t get that time off, you get one day. You have to get up on boxing day and leave your family, ready for to serve the masses who are hunting for bargains in the sale. For some it may be a Godsend to creep out to work, for most it’s absolutely heartbreaking to miss out on turkey sandwiches, the crappy films you’ve seen a dozen times, the family parties and to see your children/grandchildren enjoying their new toys.

If I were to play devils advocate here, I’d argue that they receive extra holiday to compensate and they also get paid a slightly higher rate. But is that much consolation?


So, although I don’t think the meaning of Christmas has been lost, it has made me think about all the workers who’ve dragged themselves away from their families between boxing day and new year. Shops will always be open and there’ll always be people needed to work in them, but I will always appreciate the person serving me and understand if they seem less than festive while they’re serving.

Cheers to all of you working over Christmas, I did one year too.

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  1. December 30, 2015 / 8:04 pm

    When I worked in retail, I didn’t get paid any extra for those days and I didn’t get extra time off in lieu; I also had to spend Christmas on my own because my family lived 200 miles away, the trains didn’t run on Boxing Day and, anyway, I had to be at work pricing up sale items at 6am. So I really get where she’s coming from. I don’t see a way round it, though – the shops aren’t going to stop opening on Boxing Day even if the customers HAVE bought enough food to tide them over!

    • firstooth
      December 30, 2015 / 9:40 pm

      I think being close on boxing day wouldn’t be the end of the world because like you say people have stocked up on food to last weeks! It’s horrible working in retail over Xmas I really feel for all those that have done or do

  2. December 31, 2015 / 3:52 pm

    I work in retail and most staff are part-time and the usual arrangement is that staff are allocated certain days to work to try to make it fair for everyone.
    I do think though that people go nuts with the amount of food they buy just to cover one day!
    One of our till staff dressed up as Santa and it made some childrens day!

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