Why we're #sackingsecretsanta this year.
“The deeper meaning of Christmas”. It's a theological idea explored through centuries via the mediums of song, verse, religion, figureheads with red suits and beards, black and white movies, and even Bill Murray.
Once a year, for a period of time ranging from 12 days, to Post-Halloween-To-New-Years’-Day, we humans open our normally awkward and closed hearts to the possibilities of, well, possibilities.
Emotions run high, spirits run clear (and are mixed with spiced tonics), halls are decked and the chances of getting a kiss at the office party increases by at least sevenfold.
But what are we doing, really? The fun, hedonistic and – yes – joyful elements are all what makes it the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, and that’s all great, but what does it all mean?!
Love? Kindness? Parties? Giving? Getting? Buying? Black-Friday-ing? Presents?
If you were to play a word association game with the nearest person to you, I would bet my last penny on 'presents' coming up on at least four out of five occasions. Safe assumption, right?
Of course, giving feels good, and it’s undeniably pleasing to bring a smile to the face of a loved one with a well-thought-out gift that they will treasure forever. But then there’s the other end of the scale. The “Secret Santa” end of the scale. The end that brings us such treats as a mini golf game for the toilet, a cushion with your own face on it and a ring that holds your nail varnish so you don’t have to put it on the table. (Phew, glad that problem is solved!).
Let’s for a moment, step back and heed some advice from the second father (of) Christmas; Charles Dickens:
“Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” (A Christmas Carol, 1843)
If we are to continue down our current course, and should we allow this ‘stuff’ to become ubiquitous at every office Christmas party from now till eternity, then, what will our ‘certain end’ look like? Lacking a ‘Ghost of Christmas Future’ to point his bony finger and show us, we might have to make some assumptions, based, of course, on data:
So with this, are we to assume our ‘certain end’ is a divided world, a mass landfill of plastics, and a multitude of extinct species due to the lack of a home?
How’s that for a bit of festive cheer?! (And this is merely the tip of the iceberg. George Monbiot illustrates these points succinctly and elegantly in this stark article – “The Gift of Death”).
It can be overwhelming, of course. Recent years, it can be argued, have been ‘tumultuous’ at best for the world as we know it. It’s understandable why we can feel helpless in the ‘system’.
But now’s the time that we can break it. Even if it’s just a small crack.
So, while we wouldn’t ever advocate anything less than being very merry at Christmas time, we’re also hoping that this year, together, we can spread some of the ‘love for your fellow man’ that the indefinable Christmas Spirit inspires.
Which is why, this year, Spacelab has chosen to “Sack Secret Santa”. A seemingly simple message, but with the hope (because at Christmas, people hope…), that we can all change our collective path to make the world a better place.
What started with a plan to put the £500 we would normally spend internally towards essential items for the street homeless people in our local area, expanded quickly to a hashtag (as things do in 2017), and via our ‘cic’, The Lab Foundation, we decided to see if others would join our movement.
So, if you’re interested in ‘departing from the course’ and giving your £10 to something ‘quite beautiful’, click here. Or why don't you do the same in your workplace?
Go on, put a little love in your heart. :)
Fun fact: Did you know that A Christmas Carol wasn’t intended as a story?
Dickens’ first planned to write a pamphlet, entitled “An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”, inspired by his distress at the inequality of social classes in his day.
Let’s see if his 174-year-old plea can make the changes he hoped for in the modern day.