Colette Sheridan: Are you dreaming of a ‘woke’ Christmas minus the presents?

English TV presenter, Amanda Holden, was fuming last week when the school her seven year old daughter, Holly, attends, told the pupils they should ask Father Christmas for world peace. Colette Sheridan reflects on the idea of a 'woke' Christmas.
Colette Sheridan: Are you dreaming of a ‘woke’ Christmas minus the presents?
Amanda Holden arrives at the Britain’s Got Talent 2019 auditions. Amanda was annoyed that her daughter was asked to write a Father Christmas letter, asking for world piece. Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

IS it OK to talk about the ‘C’ word?

The window in Brown Thomas, all glittering lights and red and gold hues, exasperates a lot of us when it encroaches on our visual plane in Patrick Street far too early in the run up to Christmas.

Before we know it, we’re compiling gift lists, resentful that the festive season seems to come earlier than ever before (we say this every year).

Christmas, of course, is really for the children. If you’re a parent of young children, you’re probably concerned about their requests from Santa, in case they break his budget. But you will find a way to make sure that your kids’ Christmas will be memorable and you’ll exult in their wide-eyed wonderment as they swoop on their presents, placed lovingly beneath the tree.

That is, of course, assuming that you’re not imposing a ‘woke’ Christmas on your family.

‘Woke’ in its modern-day politicised context is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as well-informed and up to date. Being woke these days is being mainly alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice. It seeps across environmental awareness and needless to say, it has Christmas in its targets.

But think of the children all ye woke fascists! English TV presenter, Amanda Holden, was fuming last week when the school her seven year old daughter, Holly, attends, told the pupils they should ask Father Christmas for world peace. She really wants a Barbie.

According to Amanda, the children in her daughter’s class were asked to write a ‘woke’ Christmas letter to Santa but they weren’t allowed to ask for material goods. Whatever about trying to explain the rationale behind such an edict to a seven year old, imagine telling a three year old that they must not ask for say, a toy tractor, because plastic is bad and material gifts are just potentially adding to landfill waste? Yes, we must all do our bit in terms of limiting our carbon footprint but surely we don’t have to be po-faced about Christmas?

How many of us are really going to have a ‘woke’ Christmas?

Apparently, we should be renting Christmas trees from companies that will plant them back into the ground after use. I have no problem with that. And such a gesture would make sense even to a child. But are we supposed to ditch sending Christmas cards to reduce waste? Yes, the ‘woke’ police wants us to dispense with this tradition.

One of the joys of Christmas is hearing that thud on the hall floor when the postman delivers lots of Christmas cards. In an age of email, some people chose to send greetings via the internet. But nothing beats receiving a well-chosen Christmas card from a friend or thrillingly, from someone we haven’t heard from for years but would like to reconnect with. The kind of Christmas cards you buy are a statement of your personality. You might go for the classical religious image of the virgin and child which means you value the true meaning of Christmas and you are a traditionalist at heart. Or your leanings could be depicted in a card with a fat Santa Claus delivering pressies on his sleigh, which is also traditional but minus any piety. In between are humorous cards, kitsch cards and the achingly tasteful. A quick glance at the back of the card reveals the charity it supports or the company that makes it.

There was a time, before ‘woke’ culture, when it was considered your duty to buy Irish cards. This had more to do with filling the coffers of Irish business people than unbridled patriotism.

While it’s our duty to protect the environment, it’s very hard to put it into practice. Celebrities such as actress and eco-campaigner, Emma Thompson, are leading the way this Christmas, refusing to buy presents in order to be more sustainable. Emma says that instead of exchanging gifts, she will take her family for a walk. Really? What kind of a substitute is a walk in the cold for a cosy gift of fur-lined gloves (faux-fur of course) or the latest books you’ve been hoping to receive this Christmas?

If my sister suggested going for a walk with her instead of giving me a tasteful gift, I’d find it hard to be diplomatic. Maybe wealthy celebs are so spoilt with freebies of designer clothes and goodie bags that they’re beyond being appreciative of gifts bought by family and friends. But the rest of us love being bestowed with everything from perfume to hand crafted jewellery.

If you want to cut down on waste, recycle wrapping paper, give Christmas Crackers a skip and decorate the house with holly and mistletoe as opposed to wasteful tinsel. But I aint dreaming of a woke Christmas.

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