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Trouble is Christmas comes all gift rapt

EVERY time a child requests an "android" for Christmas and doesn't mean an actual robot, an angel loses its wings.

Wait, it's Christmas. A Wise Man loses his crown. Yep, that's it - a Wise Man loses his crown.

Most countries have traditions of giving. Our Christmas giving tradition is linked to the Wise Men's gold, frankincense and myrrh, presents of limited use to a newborn but suitably lavish.

Giving has become the modern meaning of the season - whether you like it or not - and lavish has become the watchword.

Canadian airline Westjet has pulled off the ultimate Christmas marketing miracle - a viral video that, when I last looked, had more than 19 million views.

Passengers lining up to board a flight are asked by a Santa, dressed in Westjet purple, what they would like for Christmas. The answers are predictable - a giant flat screen TV, a camera, an android tablet - but nothing to the benefit of others or non-materialistic. One guy asked for socks and underwear. That guy is my Westjet hero.

While the flight is in the air, airline staff rattle around the shops buying up the Christmas wish list. On arrival, the passengers wait at the luggage carousel and the gifts come tumbling down. The recipient of the camera bursts into tears and is comforted by sympathetic family members.

I've seen this video shared on Facebook multiple times, mostly with comments underneath expressing how it made the poster cry with joy. It certainly makes me cry.

It makes me cry tears of frustrated resignation. If a cynical corporation buying expensive electrical goods for comfortably off passengers is perceived as a generous gesture encapsulating the joy of the Christmas season, then Christmas should be cancelled.

I've seen the guy who asked for socks repeatedly called "stupid" for not asking for something more expensive. How lovely that modesty and good sense is thought stupid in our crazily consumerist culture.

The US tradition of Black Friday came to the UK in November and people went berserk. Asda, owned by American behemoth Walmart, offered cut prices on electrical goods to push up sales; people scrabbled and scrambled to get their mits on them. There was an arrest, a hospitalisation and fistfights.

As with every Christmas, newspapers and magazines are full of articles advising people how not to get into debt at Christmas. Here's my advice: don't buy so much stuff.

We're in an economic system that makes consumption important; the market needs capital and gains capital from our spending. And people are happy to spend. Ownership is linked to self-esteem, comfort and respect; ownership is based on desire. It's a tough cycle to break - and the Westjet viral video shows why.

People cannot distinguish between need and want and Christmas now acts as a smokescreen for greed. But, then, giving should be the spirit of Christmas. Christmas is about showing care for others and giving does that. There just needs to be some moderation.

My favourite Christmas gift is a card with a well-thought-out message inside. I'd love to say let's just give cards at Christmas but it's a pointless endeavour. The cards will only get larger and more lavish until they eventually come with toys attached and then attached to toys before we're back at the beginning.

There's a Church of Stop Shopping. Its preacher, the Reverend Billy, spends a lot of his time getting arrested. That aside, I could totally get on board with this church. It could reinvent Christmas. Less consumerism, more thought. Westjet may have captured the modern spirit of Christmas, but that doesn't make it right. God rest ye merry credit cards, people.

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