Is this Christmas?

Christmas is coming,

The geese are getting fat

Who’ll out a penny in the old man’s hat?

I remember this verse from a nursery rhyme book. I look at the streets and I do see poor people, a lot of poor people. I also see a lot of people standing in queues at the various cash loan offices. I don’t like cash loans. They charge exorbitant interest rates force people into serial lending. Sometimes there are debit orders whereby the repayment is paid directly keep the company’s account. Other less official lenders retain the client’s bank card and draw the money as soon as their salary, pension or grant is paid into their account. It’s a vicious circle because instead of it being a loan which is given with the aim of being repaid, the whole amount plus interest is repaid every month. The problem is that the amount that people lend is usually more or less equal to their monthly income and therefor they keep lending again and again and again. I see them standing and waiting every month, and I see their children waiting outside for them. I see the culture of lending being instilled into the children and I cry in my soul. I cry for the people who don’t have. Some people borrow against the social grant they receive for their children and old people lend against their pension. Slavery is long gone, but these people are owned by the people they owe money to.

It probably starts innocently enough. A mother needs money to buy school clothes for her children and because she hasn’t put aside anything during the year she thinks that borrowing against the social grant won’t do any harm. The problem is that she’s never going to get out of the circle. Why does she receive a grant for her children? Firstly its a kind of culture. There are so many teenage girls who fall pregnant and have babies while they are still at school. They don’t get married and most of them don’t receive any maintenance from the father’s of their child/ren. The government offers a monthly grant to single mothers and it gets made very good use of. Even women who work receive this grant for their children. I think some women decide not to get married, or to remain unemployed because of the grant. (my own opinion)

The point I actually want to make is about Christmas. People go mad at Christmas. Everyone has to have new clothes and new curtains and new furniture. I’ve seen children demand new clothes. And not just any clothes, specific brand names that their parents can’t afford and the parents borrow money and put themselves into debt to appease them. And they get drunk. Ridiculously, hideously drunk. I look around the streets and I see drunk people. It starts in the second week of December and continues till after New Year. It is so sad.

It is so sad that the birth of our Savior is reduced to lending money and getting drunk.

I cry.

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