No one should be surprised to learn that I think Christmas is evil.
No one should be surprised to learn that I think Christmas is evil. Underneath the fly-spotted decorations that there is barely time to take down between Christmases, lurk the worst things about human nature. They pop out, usually at about 4pm on Christmas Day when the fights start. If not actually violent, that time is when relations start hugging their grievances instead of each other; when fraught silences take over from carol singing. No one can get attention for their problems. Vets are closed, doctors absent, dentists disappear, hospitals are overcrowded… Christmas is a cauldron of unsatisfied desires, needs and disappointments. And it’s not all down to the demon drink. The inequalities of our society really go into high gear at Christmas. I don’t need to tell you about that. But perhaps I do have to tell you about age discrimination at Christmas. Oh God, it’s so awful. Wondering what facilities there were for aged and disabled people to do their Christmas shopping, I googled “old age” and “Christmas shopping”. As you would. What appeared before me on the internet page was a revelation of how people view the elderly and it was not good. It was horrendous. Someone had asked for suggestions on what to give an elderly person for Christmas. “You have to be more specific…” snapped a respondent. “Male or female, alzheimers, healthy and lucid?” But this person went on to have a bash anyway: “I would suggest slippers, hot chocolate and a nice blanket with a movie or something like that in a basket…They…don’t want much more than your company at that age, what better than a cosy basket?” Next answer: “Umm hmm actually one of those Nintendo games that are supposedly good for your mind.” Is everyone obsessed with dementia these days, I have to ask? Short answer from me: yes. Flameless candles are just the thing for the crazy old things: “They smell nice, like a candle, and they look like a candle but they’re battery operated so there’s no chance of forgetting about it and falling asleep while it’s burning.” (What is crazier: a battery candle or this person’s obsession with elderly people’s incompetence?) Here’s a livelier gift idea: “ When my Grandpa was in his 80s, he really got a kick out of those talking head animals like the mounted Bass fish that would talk or sing when you walked by it. He had a duck that would yell at you when you walked by it. (Or) you could go with house slippers and such stuff to keep them warm.” It gets worse. “Hearing aid batteries (no joke, they are expensive), laxatives (no joke, they usually need them), Fortimel (a protein drink), nice warm sox, a nice fluffy warm sweater.” “Restored old family photographs. Family photo albums. Things like that.” “A gingerbread house.” “They really enjoy home-made items made by you!!!” “Mental games or books.” Okay, that’s enough. None of my readers will make it to Christmas, if they feel as explosive as I do. But what does it tell you, eh? Just one more: the “Best Answer – Chosen by Voters”. “Most elderly people have all the material things they need. A nice food basket with cheese, fruit, nuts etc is nice.” But a reminder: “I wouldn’t buy food unless you knew they didn’t have any dietary restrictions.” And I must add: “Unless you’re sure they still know the way to their mouth.” *** I hear that Coles is developing a policy for its dealings with the elderly and disabled who buy their goods. I wonder what it could be. Will songs from the 50s be heard on Coles’ muzak on pension days? It is hard to expect any policy for the aged could emerge from a supermarket that literally chains up the shallow trolleys preferred by the old and infirm. If Coles could not follow my simple disability discrimination claim that it is all but impossible for anyone with infirmities to wrestle with a chained up trolley, then I am wise not to hope for too much from any “aged and disability policy”. Wise, but saddened; as I am every time I witness the wrestling (“just hold my stick, dear”) or despair (“my arthritic fingers just can’t manage the coin-in-the-slot.”) at Coles, West Lakes, where I used to shop. It’s not even the wrestling. It’s making obvious to the world one’s little losses of independence. How we third agers hate that. Oh, but these expensive trolleys are nicked, Coles claims. Come on, when did you last see an 80 year-old pop a trolley into the back of their Holden? NB: Do not. Do NOT suggest giving an old person Coles’ trolley tokens for Christmas.