Forgive Me Santa, For I Have Sinned
I didn’t mean to.
It was a moment of weakness, a moment of selfishness in which I found myself tempted to do something I have never done before.
I did my Christmas shopping online.
I know, I know… we were all warned about the digital behemoths invading cyberspace, squashing retailers and family businesses underfoot, spelling the demise of traditional stores.
We were warned, in times of fickle consumer confidence and waning disposable income, every dollar passed over the counter was a small cash injection into the pockets of fellow Australians.
But hear me out.
Admittedly, I am not a ‘Christmas’ person. No, it’s not a case of ‘humbug’ or grinch-ish inclinations. I just. Don’t. Get it.
Trees… gaudy ornaments… an ongoing delusion that, somehow, fat men in bearded, woollen suits sitting in front of blazing fireplaces doesn’t appear bloody ridiculous in Australia’s summer heat.
Apparently there’s some sort of religious element to it all, supposed to fill us all with love and generosity, but as society slides into godlessness, that seems even less relevant…
And so, once a year, when this great, confused mass of twinkling lights and kitsch seasonal confusion rolls into town, I and thousands of others who prefer to celebrate the birthdays of the living are forced to open our wallets and express our gratitude to those closest to us, with trinkets that fall within a predetermined price range (don’t get me started on the complex, foggy strata of who is worth what based on their proximity and what they gave us last year).
Once a year, we arm ourselves with trolleys, which, for a brief moment, become our sword, our shield, in a war of hasty decisions and shop-aisle skirmishes.
Here, chaos reigns. Little old ladies transform into blue-haired beasts, snarling over the last tins of Christmas shortbread. Furtive parents, given a 30 minute reprieve from their own little monsters, argue over a suitable replacement after finding out little Timmy’s one-and-only gift wish has sold out.
Shelf-stacking assistants greet their thousandth customer question with thousand-yard stares. All the while the repetitive drone of carols bleat through monotone speakers above.
The path to Hell is illuminated by neon lights and LEDs.
And every December, I fear the moment I must step out into this festive warzone and hope I can storm the retail citadel and return home with a fully-ticked list and my sanity intact.
Forgive me Santa, for I have sinned.
Last weekend, sitting at my computer, I decided to simply get an idea of what that dreaded list would entail. Oh, but I was warned! How easy! How straightforward! Before I knew it, I was browsing digital shelves, and my treasonous cyber-trolley was filling up. The only interaction with another person was when my partner asked, “what are you doing?”.
That was it. No empty pleasantries. No feigned interest in my day. No entreaties for ‘donations to such-and-such’ at the checkout. Not once did some spaced-out zombie slam their trolley into me, awoken only briefly from their trance to blurt out ‘oh sorry’ before pushing on.
No bloody carols.
There was even time to pour myself a beer.
And then it was over. Eleven months of festive fear evaporated with the click of a mouse.
Everyone was accounted for. No blood had been spilled. I hadn’t even left the house.
But I still feel dirty, hence my confession. I have betrayed the retail gods and all that Christmas means to them. I have become a covert consumer, seduced by the digital devil. And yet this is has been the most painless Jesus Birthday I’ve ever experienced, and all I await now is a knock at the door.
Forgive me Santa, for I have sinned.