Time to get into fes­tive mood

The Citizen (KZN) - - LETTERS - Dirk Lotriet

Buckle down – there are just 17 days left to com­plain about how com­mer­cialised Christ­mas has be­come. If you note a hint of sar­casm in this re­mark, dear reader, you are not mis­taken – I’m ar­guably South Africa’s most ded­i­cated cham­pion for the real Christ­mas mir­a­cle: com­mer­cial­is­ing the stuff­ing out of the fes­tive sea­son.

Open your eyes: for an econ­omy as frag­ile as ours, an an­nual sea­son of re­tail in­dul­gence big­ger than Black Fri­day, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day all rolled into one, is noth­ing less than a god­send.

This very week, our dear Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has called for a stronger man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor in Africa, be­cause it’s a rich con­ti­nent, but its res­i­dents are liv­ing in poverty. Am I the only one notic­ing the irony in the fact that it is him say­ing it?

He’s right, of course, in the long run a pow­er­ful in­dus­trial sec­tor which can process the con­ti­nent’s abun­dant re­sources will be our only sal­va­tion.

But in the short term, par­tic­u­larly in this south­ern cor­ner of Africa, we are kept afloat by Boney M in the su­per­mar­kets, Si­na­tra in the malls and Christ­mas lights on ev­ery sec­ond house and tree.

We may have our own self­ish rea­sons to try to keep Christ­mas wrapped up in a blan­ket of ex­clu­siv­ity, but if we truly want to make it a sea­son to be jolly, we have to em­brace the com­mer­cial soul of the hol­i­days.

Many re­tail busi­nesses only sur­vive on the hope of a good Christ­mas. It has the abil­ity to get money out of ad­mit­tedly stressed con­sumers’ pock­ets and into cash reg­is­ters. It cre­ates jobs and puts food on many empty ta­bles. And it awak­ens a spirit of char­ity and do­na­tion in most of us.

And I can’t see how any re­li­gion can be op­posed to a sce­nario where peo­ple have jobs, man­age to feed their chil­dren and give to those less for­tu­nate.

Dear reader, if I may ask just one thing of you for the next 17 days: Don’t be the Grinch.

If you want to com­plain about “how com­mer­cialised it has all be­come”, rather keep it a Silent Night. Sing your car­ols with gusto, be charmed by the lights and in­vest at least a small por­tion of that bonus in this won­der­ful, com­mer­cial sea­son.

Christ­mas keeps South Africa’s eco­nomic en­gine oiled, it feeds and clothes its ci­ti­zens and it puts smiles on faces.

I can’t think of any other part of year that can re­place it.

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