It is impossible to identify when exactly it happened, but at some point over the past decade or two, the poor hijacked Christmas.
Dec. 25 and the few days leading up to it used to be about peace, love and goodwill on Earth, and a few gifts. But “Merry Christmas” has been replaced by, “Happy holidays, and please give.”
Materialism has a lot to do with it.
Grinches who hate Christmas always justify their grinchiness by saying it’s just about stuff — selling stuff, getting stuff, accumulating stuff.
They are wrong, of course. It’s also about giving stuff.
That is how the poor managed to hijack Christmas. There’s so much giving stuff and getting stuff and selling stuff and buying stuff — for a full two months prior to Dec. 25 — that the glut prompts the human conscience to fire up and tell its host, “Maybe you should share some of this.”
Thus the common concern this time of year for those “less fortunate.”
In less enlightened times, the less fortunate were sometimes referred to as the “deserving poor,” an obnoxious phrase that implies there must also be the “undeserving poor,” whose children should not expect to receive train sets, cute dolls or turkey dinners due to the sins of their parents.
The less fortunate dominate Christmas.
Go shopping, and you’re hit upon to help the less fortunate by donating a few coins or bills.
Go to the Santa Claus parade, and make sure you bring some money or items for the food banks.
Schools routinely ask students to bring in cans of this or boxes of that to donate to food banks, and then bask like champions when it is announced the kids collected so many thousands of dollars’ worth of items.
There’s a serious downside to this food fetish. This time of year, you can barely find a box of Kraft Dinner on store shelves. It’s all at the food banks.
The only ones who will get to enjoy a fine plate of Kraft Dinner on Christmas Eve are the deserving poor.
But all the attention paid to the less fortunate and all the attempts to make Christmas inclusive have led to the unfortunate exclusion of some others. I speak, of course, about the deserving rich.
Those of us in the vast — albeit dwindling — middle class owe a lot to the deserving rich. Our livelihoods. Our houses. Our cars. Our stuff.
Listen to federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
According to him, the deserving rich are highly concerned about the well-being of Canadians.
Flaherty says the federal government doesn’t support increasing seniors’ pensions under the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) because it would require higher contributions from employees and employers.
According to Flaherty, making the corporate sector pay more into CPP would impede its heroic efforts to create more jobs for Canadians.
The corporate sector is well known for its creation of jobs … in China, Mexico, India, Thailand and so on.
Apparently, the rich lie awake at night worrying about ways to create more jobs for Canadians, too.
“I hope Jim Flaherty doesn’t raise employers’ CPP premiums. That would kill those 100 jobs I’m planning to create tomorrow.”
Dreams for a leisure society disappeared a generation ago. We now live in an unrepentant money society.
In 2014, the average cost of a house in Canada will push closer to $400,000.
Freedom 55 has been replaced by Freedom 67.
It costs about $250,000 to run for the leadership of a two-bit provincial opposition party.
At this time of year, especially, let’s give thanks to the rich and their friends in government, that they
let us have a portion of Canada’s wealth.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at email@example.com.