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Christmas at others’ expense

BY: Dr Enyonam Canice Kudonoo

It is that time of the year again, and households all over the world are preparing feverishly to celebrate the birth of Christ whom, according to Christians, is the Saviour of mankind; and additionally, preparations are underway to usher in the new year.

The occasion attracts merriments involving all sorts of lavish spending on clothes, food, gifts, parties among other activities. It is an opportunity where businesses flourish by taking advantage of consumers to increase (by doubling, or tripling) the prices of goods and services. They make a lot of sales through fair or foul means to accrue more money because customers are willing to spend on themselves and their loved ones.

The desire to enjoy the festivities and “keep up with the Joneses”, make most of the citizenry as consumers engage in corrupt acts or become prey to corrupt individuals who exploit them. For instance, seamstresses, tailors, event planners, shop owners, caterers, some NGOs, and some members of the public seize the opportunity to extort as much money as possible from vulnerable individuals in society.

This article pays attention to corrupt acts engaged in by individuals including disappointments of non-delivery of promised consumable products and services to enrich themselves during yuletides.

Disappointments

During festivities such as Christmas, people desire to be in the best clothes they can possibly afford. Wearing good clothes that are well tailored to fit one’s figure makes people feel good, happy and confident during occasions.

Such good-fitting clothes are usually acquired by buying already-made dresses—which are mostly expensive—or contracting dressmakers to make preferred style of clothes from preferred fabrics bought by the client. Tailors and seamstresses, out of greed and selfish ambition to earn more (corruption), accept more orders than they can handle and eventually end up disappointing their clients.

Disappointments include badly sewn garments, missing fabrics, or partially sewn garments, making their customers go through the celebrations with disappointments. Caterers, because of greed, take more orders to prepare meals to be served at more social events than they can deliver within an agreed time.

Consequently, they make organisers of such social events (parties) prolong the start time because of their inability to deliver on time; thereby, wasting the time of party guests as they end up having to wait a long time before they are served and the party ends.

Another disappointment people experience comes about when event planners are unable to deliver as in the case of timeliness and agreed-on specifications because they have taken on more than they can deliver.

The purchasing power of consumers to meet their family needs during the festivities is another challenge because the prices of goods and services are unbearably high. According to Christians, the birth of Christ is a gift to mankind.

However, we have made the celebration of this gift outrageously expensive coupled with uncomfortable demands that defeat the purpose. This makes people find themselves in bondage as they engage in corrupt acts because they feel the need to acquire extravagant things rather than just enjoy the freedom the gift of Christ brings.

Uncomfortable Demands

Christmas celebrations are associated with unnecessary and extravagant demands from all manner of people, organisations, shops, nuclear and extended family members, friends, acquaintances, neighbours, religious organisations, NGOs, and total strangers, as they put pressure on others to make donations.

Christmas boxes are placed in shops and offices creating very uncomfortable and embarrassing situations for people as they are pressured to donate a token. In other cases, specifications are given concerning what form the donation should take.

Interestingly, the demands are made in a compelling way to an extent that people feel forced to oblige. Although giving is meant to be voluntary--done from the heart so one can be blessed as a result—the requests sound so demanding that they have become compulsory. Although most of the citizenry are against corruption, unconsciously indulging in these actions create fertile grounds for corruption to thrive in Ghana.

How much do people earn to engage in such superfluities during Christmas? The desire to get new clothes, organise parties, exchange expensive gifts, put money in Christmas boxes in shops and offices, make people happy by meeting some organisations’ demand to give, among others. Do these actions portray the essence of Christmas? The questions that need addressing include: where are people expected to get the money from to meet all these demands? Are these practices not pushing people into engaging in corrupt practices?

Also, do the organisations that make requests for specific items send the items to the target group? Is there any organisation out there monitoring these activities to ensure probity and accountability? Is it possible for us to redefine the way to celebrate Christmas by meaningfully considering its purpose? These are foods for thought as we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, 2022.

The writer is a lecturer at Ashesi University Accra