Spain’s Bridget Jones speaks

Article published on Dec. 23, 2007
Article published on Dec. 23, 2007

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

Fed up of the world? Unite and fight against the consumerism of Christmas. We are serious: the world is in bad shape, and Christmas is the main culprit

I confess that I do have a few economic limitations, and so this Christmas I’ll be celebrating the only way I can – with energy, illusion, gusto, and imagination. Oh yes, and one more thing: with the will to change the world.

Confusing value with price

The main thing during the Christmas period is not to confuse value with price. Giving Christmas presents seems to have lost it’s meaning, because now it is seen as an obligation and a social imposition. In reality, that much criticised ritual is an exercise in self-worth. We give because we want to be loved, and we think that by giving more expensive gifts, we will be loved even more. This is a serious mistake. (Please don’t let this put off any friends or family who want to buy me expensive presents).

To buy or not to buy? That is the question. There are so many ways to show our affection: lets beat the temptation simply to buy, buy, buy. Let’s be creative!

A little imagination, certain subversive spirit and some inventive packaging can make even the cheapest present a sure-fire success. You can include letters, poems, drawings, or even crazy declarations of love to that special someone. The main thing is to spend time deciding what to give, and how to present it.

The family - help!

Some preventative measures should be taken in order to avoid collateral damage from overdosing on family, for example, self-imposed isolation to protect against unwanted comments and conversations.

In order to avoid a Bridget Jones style grilling at the dinner table, I suggest a double strategy for singletons such as myself. The first is to always pile plenty of food on the plates, particularly when it comes to deserts, and also make sure the table is stocked with enough bottles of wine to floor 10 Erasmus students at an end of year party. Lots of bottles, in other words. Then, to avoid the embarrassing comments like ‘let’s see if you manage to get yourself a boyfriend next year’ (don’t tempt me, let’s see if I bring a poor man to sit at the table next year), there’s nothing like a few Christmas carols and a dance. Always remember, ‘music soothes the savage beast.’

Christmas does not need heroes

The national statistics institute has announced that the cost of Christmas will increase by 30% this year, which means that a supporter of ‘slow food’ such as myself will have to eat even more slowly in order to savour the meagre scraps which I can afford. Although, let’s be positive; at least we can save money on dieting after the Christmas excesses. I believe in the virtues of gastronomic minimalism: less (food) equals more (fun). Meals will not be as extravagant, and this will allow us to be even more animated after just a couple of glasses of wine. Conclusion: we will save money on drinks.

As with presents, the important thing is not what is on the plate. The guests themselves bring the main ingredient of a successful family meal: humour. And if we don’t feel want to go to a meal, we shouldn’t sacrifice ourselves in vein; we should learn to say ‘no’. An absence is a lot more favourable than an uncomfortable presence. Christmas doesn’t need heroes, it needs harmony.

Solidarity and subtle revenge

I admit that I am not a saint but I do, on occasion, suffer sudden attacks of solidarity that seem to get worse at Christmas. Should I ignore them just because it is Christmas? I know that, sometimes, greeting or paying attention to someone who I consider to be wholly unlikable is a subtle form of revenge. I get a strange sense of pleasure seeing how these people who don’t normally talk but, rather, bark are forced into smiling and being pleasant.

Every year, on 5 January, our friends get together and throw a party at my house to mark the end of the Christmas season. In 2005 we collected donations for an NGO to send to victims of the ‘tsunami’, and it has become a tradition ever since. We celebrate Christmas, but we should not forget the pain, the needs, and the suffering of millions of people.