I am fortunate enough to be writing this blog from Cape Verde, whilst sitting/semi-lying on a sun lounger, from a terrace almost spitting distance from Praia da Cruz aka the glorious sea.
I still find it slightly undignified to drink before noon, so although there is no sangria or merlot at hand at this moment (11.45), before the end of this blog, there certainly will be.
For the past 3 years, I have chosen to spend my Christmases abroad. Christmas is a time when families get together, but in my case, it is time when I put as much distance between us as my budget permits.
It’s not just the monotony of over eating, the ridiculousness of eating things which few of us enjoy, ie dry turkey and brussels, rubbish TV (it’s incredible that they are still showing Morecombe & Wise) but I am sick to death of the commercialism that is now part and parcel of Christmas. No sooner have the supermarkets cleared its shelves of unsold Halloween pumpkins, way is made for Christmas things. This is not so that you can spread the cost of Christmas, but its so that by the time Christmas arrives, you will have already eaten your way through 10 packets of mince pies. The sell by date will have expired well before Christmas.
We are bombarded with adverts to buy this and that, but in these lean times of austerity, what about the many families who can barely afford to buy food? It’s not enough that people will feel the pressure of having to buy essentials, but they must also withstand the constant reminders that they are poor.
Even though Christmas comes around the same time every year, we (well, not me), still allow ourselves to be hoodwinked by the same old tricks, I talk of black Friday , cyber Tuesday and the like, where supposedly prices are slashed and if you don’t buy now, the world will end.
Even as I type, I am receiving notifications from various entities alerting me to 50% off, just 3 days before Christmas, when they know that by now, presents have already been bought. So why the huge discount at this stage? It’s because they know that folk are stupid enough, or lack the discipline, not to over stretch themselves. Even though bargains are available, all the time, all year round. The 50% off , by the way, is the old tat, that they weren’t able to sell last year or the year before.
So I am having none of it. I don’t feel under pressure to buy presents for anyone; if i’m not in the country at Christmas, no one has any business expecting a gift from me. Equally, I expect nothing. I try to be generous throughout the year so I will give a random gift on 26th July if I feel like it, rather than the spurious giving on 25th December.
Being here in gorgeous Cape Verde, has confirmed to me that my decision to distance myself from Christmas, is absolutely the right thing. The people here, in the main, have very little, and the focus for them, is the togetherness that the season brings and I have no doubt that waste and gluttony, will be non existent. With so little, they make the most of everything around them. Have a look at the Christmas tree made out of water bottles above. They can teach us a thing or too about recycling.
Anyway, it is now past noon and a refreshing G&T beckons. There’s not a great deal to do Half the services which I was promised when I booked this apartment, have turned out to be….well a bare faced lie. I can’t hire a bike on site, nor can snorkelling be arranged and I had to walk a mile into town to arrange my own tour of the island (stunning by the way). The lovely smiley lady who checked me in, told me that the TV does not work (no problem, i’m not on this sun drenched island to watch TV), then with the same smile, she told me there was no internet in the apartment.
I wondered for a nano second, what the criminal penalty would be if I were to bitch slap this lady. I know nothing of the Cape Verdean criminal justice system, but doubted that their prison would provide me with the comforts I would be afforded in Holloway.
“That will not do” I said to her. It’s one thing to deny me a TV, but quite another in the 21st Century, to deny me access to the internet.
So it came to pass, that for the cost of 20 euros I have a less than perfect router, which allows me stay in touch with the very friends and family who I went out of my way to escape.
Have a great Christmas. Eat, drink (in moderation) and be merry & fabulous.