“Christmas has become so commercial these days.” Jack sighed as he stared gloomily at the crowds of bad-tempered shoppers passing them by, laden down with heavy bags. “Everyone trying to outdo each other with better, more expensive gifts, bigger Christmas trees, more lights and fancier decorations. Tables are weighed down with enough food to feed an army, and everybody drinks themselves into a stupor trying to pretend they’re having a good time.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow. “I never took you for a Grinch. I thought you liked Christmas.”
“I do, I just don’t like what it’s been turned into. Sixty, seventy years ago it was different. Kids were satisfied with an orange, a handful of nuts, and a couple of small toys in their stockings, maybe a new hand-knitted sweater. The adults cared more about being together as a family, putting up a few homemade decorations, having a modest feast, and playing games with their kids in front of the fire. It was simpler back then, and people seemed happier. It wasn’t all about who had more, or who got the most expensive toys. Do these people look happy to you?”
Watching the throngs of overloaded people dashing through the shopping centre, Ianto shook his head. “They look tired, stressed, and worried.”
“Exactly! Where’s the Christmas spirit, that sense of fellowship and family? They think they’re being generous, spending more than they can afford on expensive gifts, leaving themselves with huge credit card bills to start off the new year, but the people they’re buying stuff for don’t need most of it, half the gifts will be unwanted and re-gifted, and the kids will probably be bored with their new toys by the end of the week. Either that or they’ll complain their lives have been ruined because they didn’t get some ridiculously expensive thing they desperately wanted that all the other kids already have, and then their parents will be left feeling guilty.”
Ianto sighed. “I never thought about it that way. Okay, now I’m depressed.”
Jack squeezed his hand. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault people have become so greedy.”
“I suppose not, but still… What about our Christmas? Or would you rather we not bother this year?”
“No, we should still have Christmas; we have as much right as anyone else to celebrate. Let’s just avoid going over the top with it. A couple of presents each, a tree and some decorations, a small turkey, Christmas pud, and mince pies… Nothing too lavish.”
“Okay, we can do that.” Ianto smiled, relaxing; it would mean a lot less work for both of them and they’d probably have more fun if they weren’t being run off their feet trying to get everything done.
“Great! Now, we need to get some shopping done before everything sells out!”
“Shopping? What happened to your dislike for the commercialisation of Christmas?”
“It’s alive and well, but the shopping isn’t for us.”
“It’s not?” Ianto frowned at his lover; sometimes Jack could be downright confusing.
“Nope! Christmas should be a time of caring for those less fortunate than ourselves.”
“Well, I’m all for that.”
“Good, because I thought we could get some stuff - food, warm clothing, blankets and sleeping bags, donate it to the homeless shelters. That way we can do our bit for the economy while helping the people who need it most at this time of year.”
Ianto smiled. “You know, you’re not just a pretty face and a gigantic ego; there’s a big heart in there too.” Impulsively he leaned in to kiss his lover. “Right, credit cards out and let’s get shopping! Where do you think we should start?”
“Clothes and bedding first, I think. Then after we deliver that we can do a food run.”
“Sounds like an excellent plan. Lead the way!” Suddenly Ianto couldn’t wait to start spending.
Santa could take care of all the good little boys and girls; Torchwood would see to the needs of Cardiff’s less fortunate citizens. It could be the start of a new Christmas tradition.