It is not difficult to understand the captions: –
Le village du Père Noël – The village of Father Christmas, the dark satanic mills of China where children labour excessive hours with about the equivalent pay of children in the early nineteenth century in England.
Ses Elfes – His elves. These are no mythological creatures, but real exhausted children who should be at school and with their families. They appear to have been allowed a “quick break” to sleep for a few minutes.
Son traineau – His sledge. This one isn’t drawn by reindeer! This is one of the biggest cargo ships in the world bringing plastic toys, television sets and who knows what else all the way from China to our great European ports. Even more overheads can be shaved away so that the maximum profit is made from Europeans paying European prices for Chinese goods.
Commercial Christmas is horrible beyond description. People are going to stuff themselves with rich food, get drunk and give family members and friends various consumer goods that may be more or less useful. Easter is a greater feast than Christmas, but attracts much less hype – other than rows and rows of Easter eggs almost before Septuagesima! Going to do a bit of shopping yesterday evening with my wife, we found the Galette des Rois for Epiphany, an almond cake made with puff pastry with some little thing made of pottery that designates the winner of the cardboard crown. Who would buy such a thing so long in advance of the 6th January? The supermarkets are floods of light, colour and tinsel – and the real brunt of the Christmas shopping has hardly started. The shelves are full of stuff from that ship, assembled in the factory by those exhausted kids employed by Ching Chong Hung Chow Dark Satanic Mills & Co. Ltd. I once knew a couple of Chinese takeaways in London. One was called the Wan King and the other proudly bore the name Foo King. A northern lad with a smutty sense of humour might make something of those names! What does Christmas means to non-Christians?
There is no need to be puritanical or to deprive ourselves of the festive atmosphere after Mass in Gallicantu, some good company with family and friends, a glass of good Champagne and something nice to eat. Christmas Day sees a family Mass on Christmas morning, a good meal with a stuffed duck or guinea fowl washed down with some fine wines. Presents can be things we make for each other from local materials. The ladies can get their knitting needles out, and the men can make things out of wood – or the other way round! There are still some goods manufactured in Europe and America, and we should pay our money to some of our own workers and retailers. We can make efforts to buy things in small shops rather than supermarkets, even if we have to pay a little more for less.
Needless to say, I am preaching to the choir! We approach the third Sunday of Advent and the great O Antiphons. I hope we can capture something of the prophetic spirit of Advent in spite of the noise and commercial pressure to buy, consume, buy and consume…