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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7


The latest bird flu epidemic and the subsequent potential shortage of turkey have already got the minds of the public focusing on the c word. The Halloween decorations were still up when the first jingles were ringing out to get us in the festive spirit even if the cost of living crisis is going to have its first real negative impact this December. I totally appreciate it is a crucial period for retail but these are not normal times.

I was leafing through the annual shopping brochures published by the supermarkets and I always like to see how they have managed to make them different from the previous year. The template is pretty much fixed and only the photos change and prices go up. There will be the odd new item but basically it’s the same old same old to make sure you part with as

much dosh as possible. This year people simply will not have the extra resources to spend.

The photo shopped picture perfect turkey is on the front cover presented in a way that would rarely be achieved in any home. Then inside the winning tried and tested food marketing formula takes you through a drooling photo gallery of snacks, starters, mains, desserts, cheese and wines so that you only have to open packets to stuff yourself over Christmas. The pressure will be enormous on families this year who are already seriously under the kosh financially for food and energy never mind on decorations and presents.

Doing a quick calculation for a family of four I estimated a food and drink spend for average consumption over the couple of days at around the €300.00 mark with a decent turkey and ham now at €100.00 alone. The problem is we simply do not have to spend that amount; a whole turkey and ham would feed an average family of four for an entire week never mind for just one meal. Now if you have a dozen guests around the table on the big day then yes you have enough mouths to feed all that meat.

We have totally forgotten how to cut our cloth at Christmas, as years of economic success and zero inflation have given us a complete false sense of how to live prudently. In bygone years Christmas was very strategically planned into the home routine so that there was minimum impact on the household. The sales then actually took place in January. Now it has run riot and become a commercial frenzy not to mention the impact on our health and indeed the environment with all that packaging.

I recall when young, making decorations at home, never a fresh tree but the same one being brought down from the attic every year, some personalized presents being made like knitted garments or home produced food items, sweets and chocolates being a real treat and Santa was definitely not a free for all, he was on a strict budget too. Puddings and cakes would be made months before. This scenario would be alien to the modern family and I just wonder where we are taking Christmas to now apart from the whole departure from the religious aspect.

On the consumption front the pressure to overeat and drink twice or more what we would normally consume is just incredible. I am always amazed how people just get so carried away on a yuletide of overindulgence and then give about being broke and overweight each January. I am not saying not to enjoy the moment, I enjoy myself too but a general sense of perspective is so lacking. So just maybe the current global paradigm shift will be the tweaking of the Christmas festivities dial that is surely needed to bring us back to a place of moderation and merriment and not madness.

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