Looking back at Christmas at Strode – All Presents Great and Small

Christmas has come and gone but the feel of it still clings on. The recent snow, although delayed for the season, has reminded us all of the wonders and the turn-offs of the winter season. There is however a more permanent aspect of Christmas, and that’s the presents that are given to us. Big, small, useful, ornamental, fun, annoying, presents should ultimately be about the thought rather than the present itself. But in recent decades that has changed. With the rise in mass production throughout the 20th century, there has been some presents that have been on the top of the Christmas list in millions of households in certain years. The Rubix cube, Furbbies, Lego, the new iPhone, there are things that people just can’t get enough of. However, with the current economic climate still shouldering on like a naive lieutenant in a comical war film that just doesn’t seem to kick the bucket, one has to imagine how the UK public has managed to sustain an interest in consumerism when money is regularly tight.

Some say, and indeed I say too, that the UK public hasn’t sustained an interest in what is the coolest gift this Christmas, or rather, a generation aged 15 to 19 hasn’t. For the past few weeks, I have been asking the students and teachers of Strode College in Somerset what they’re favourite present was, what were they disappointed about, and whether they had returned anything.

Here are some of the replies for ‘what was your favourite present? ‘ –

A guitar,

A Cake decorating set,

A harp,

A computer,

A pair of hunting boots,

Some Tria Markers,

A pair of lion slippers,

A jumper,

Book tokens,

and about five other students said ‘everything’. Indeed, what seems to be a common trend is how original each present represents the person. As well as the fourteen mentioned here I asked 10 more and also got completely different results. It seems then, that in a world where there are such lists as ‘The Top Ten Most Wanted Presents for Christmas’ and the ‘Top 5 presents for your Children’ that the one present one lists as their favourite present is the one most personal to them. A point made by K. Cook, Media Tutor at Strode, is that some presents, such as a DVD or a bestelling book, may have been on many Christmas lists over Christmas, but the present that one would say was their favourite would have been the one most unique to them. This I think is the complete opposite to the attitude a lot of media coverage has over Christmas, with many stores claiming that this or that product is a ‘Must Have’ for the festive holiday.

Personally, I feel that this new way of looking at consumer goods has really taken effect over the past couple of months. Studies show that more people are now buying British meat due to the horse meat scandal, and that the likes of Tesco and Walkers are now getting their ingredients from entirely within the UK. Christmas presents, whatever they may be, seem to be becoming more personal as a result of naff and money-grabbing products proving themselves to not be worth the £3.99 that buys them. The hottest gift this Christmas is not a mass-produced doll that has a million accessories for you to spend your money on, nor a game that planned its release just in time to create a mass havoc within stores as parents flock to grab a copy. Now it’s a harp, a guitar, lion slippers, a bakery set, it is something personal to the person, who in this economic climate is happy that someone is willing enough to spend s good buck on something extra special.

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