By Marie Oldman and Boadie Walters
In late October, we came across an intimidating sight: a three-storey-high Santa Claus bearing down on the mall from the adjacent department store.
Looking somewhat like a giant human Coke can, he brings a message of joy to the happy Christmas shoppers. (Did you know that Santa's colours of red and white were chosen by Coke?)
His real message is a little more hidden: he is a front man for manipulative minds behind the scene. His real message is consume (preferably from the department store which he adorns).
At Christmas we are told to "deck the halls with boughs of holly" and lots of other useless things. But the hype of the "festive season" is used as just another way for companies to sell their products. For example, you can now obtain a "limited edition Christmas beer" — it's no different from normal beer, but it does have that special word "Christmas" shamelessly printed on it.
We are told it is the season of sharing and caring. But the indicator of how much you share and care is how much you spend!
Santa's mates happily watch their profits soar while we are bombarded with lots of warm fuzzy images of families loving one another and getting along. Christmas, they tell us, "brings families together" — so that family members can tear each apart for the other 364 days of the year.
Of course, those people who can't afford to be sharing and caring get left out of the picture altogether.
There are the charities that go into overdrive at Christmas time, urging us all to "spare a thought" for those who can't afford Christmas. But this is hardly enough to fill the enormous gap for those without, in a season and a system that care more for profits than for people.