Michael Burrill

A warm holiday message from The Big Scrooge

Image: Scrooged

In true Dickensian fashion, Michael Burrill throws an Aussie Scrooge-esque “Bah Humbug” at y’all, with no “hohohos” in sight (We say “Don’t Let Santa down”…OK, we stole that from Joe Hockey, SPRUNG!)


It’s upon us again, the “festive period”, “holiday season” or whatever you want to call it.  It is meant to be a sacred time of the year; a time of family, renewal and fresh starts. The magic existed for me when I was younger, with all the excitement of opening presents (even if I never did get that Power Rangers sword) and a tasty meal around a big table.

Maybe it’s living in a different country to my extended family, or maybe it’s just old age (I realise I’m only 24, but spending your teenage years expecting/almost hoping you’ll be dead by 40 tends to colour one’s perspective), but these days I’m not so enamoured. Sure, I still appreciate the presents I recieve and realise the time of year can bring people together. I’m sure some “cool” pastors out there will even be urging me to “put the Christ back in Christmas”, but mostly, this time of year seems to celebrate what society truly holds sacred…consumption. A kind of modern Bacchanalia, which is all encompassing and almost carnal in the moment, but ultimately leaves one feeling empty and depleted.

It all starts out mundanely enough. Some Christmas muzak playing in the supermarket, or red and snow backgrounds in ads (particularly stupid in a country where Christmas is almost exclusively skin-peelingly hot), but as the cards starting rolling in, so do the Christmas parties. A blur of debauchery, plastic antlers and drunken renditions of “Fairytale of New York” (one of the few good Christmas songs) ’til all of a sudden, Christmas is over for another year as you resentfully wolf down another chewy turkey sandwich.

Or, in the case of this “fuckin’ dropkick” (I believe that is the correct scientific term), awake to the unpleasant realisation you passed out while eating a tub of yoghurt…

Then comes the “dead zone”, the odd almost dreamlike week after Chrimbo that eventually gives way to the positivity and hope of New Years Eve. Everyone is ready for a party and a fresh start, but instead of feeling renewed on New Years Day, I tend to find myself feeling anything but fresh, wishing I still had some New Years resolutions to break. With the multi million dollar fireworks still ringing in my ears, I struggle to think of ways the display was any different to last years.

The cultural MDMA of the festive period must have a comedown, and that comedown is January. During this month of existential malaise, everyone seems to wait nervously for that new person to appear in the mirror, as they ignore the nagging voice inside that suggests meaningful change might be more complex than a fleeting outpouring of optimism. With the coming of February, most seem to give up and accept the unfortunate truth, that it may have all been a scam, and the coming year will probably be a lot like the last…

I’m sure some will call me a killjoy and ask what’s my problem with partying. I’ve never needed an excuse for a party, in fact if anything I need excuses not to party…and perhaps that is the problem. Sure, I have to take some responsibility for myself, but when you look at what is generally achieved by these apparently “hopeful” days, over consumption, it all begins to feel like a bit of a manipulation; a false dawn that actually reinforces the unhealthy behaviours of the last year.

People have a tendency to talk about suicide rates rising during this period, generally attributing the rise to loneliness. I’m sure loneliness plays its part, but what of the underlying and depressing truth that seems to lie at the heart of these supposedly sacred holidays? We live in a society that tends to value people based on their economic productivity or consumption…

Enough from this Scrooge. I’ll let you all get back to watching “It’s A Wonderful Life” for the twelfth time. Have a happy fuckin’ Christmas and a happy New Year…

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