It’s interesting how writing about something clears the thoughtwaves to then bring forth fresh thoughts and that’s exactly what’s happened since the post on Peer Pressure.
I have been thinking a lot today about Confirmation, or konfirmation, depending on where you come from. Confirmation is that time when you get confirmed as an adult member of the church, it usually happens about age 13. At least it did for me in the church of England and it did for my two eldest children. The other two come later.
When I had mine I think we popped down to my grandparents house for a few sandwiches. My sister was confirmed at the same time too. Wish I could say I remember the event, but I really don’t, only that it now means I can go to church and partake of the bread and wine. I even did this on Christmas eve 2018, when I attended the evening service at the church in Consett. Regardless of your thoughts on religion, or mine, that church in Consett is a focal point of my family history and therefore worthy of a visit. Christenings, weddings and funerals have all taken place there over a period of many years. I can even stand on the same step outside that my parents stood on for some of their wedding photos. This history should not be forgotten – and it never will be, at least not by my generation. Why, I even sat and endured the Vicar likening the people who voted for Brexit to King Herod. I say let’s follow that star out of the European Union, but let’s save that one for another post.
Konfirmation in Denmark is a huge industry. Parents spend the equivalent of thousands of pounds and relatives lavish thousands upon the confirmees. I’d liken it to US Prom, if not way beyond that, with expensive dresses, everyone else dressed up to the nines and the requirement for a big dinner. Everyone congregates at the church. This in itself is an interesting insight into the culture here, since to be able to get your child confirmed, you need to pay the 1% a year Church tax. That Abba came up with the song money, money, money can be no coincidence. The competitiveness begins at the church with parents outdoing each other in their fineries, the girls in white dresses that will only ever be worn once and boys in jackets and shirts. In the case of my son, also worn only once..sigh. Once the service is over, everyone files out – for 99.9% of them, these people will never attend church again unless a funeral, wedding or christening demands it. It reeks of hypocrisy.
This is now where phase 2 begins – how to get from the church to the place where your big confirmation dinner is. Of course, the aim is to outdo everyone else, so being picked up in a Lamborghini, vintage car or vintage horse and trap are potential winners. You can already feel the drip..drip..drip again, can’t you?
Phase 3 – dinner. As a parent you are expected to pay for a 3 course dinner with drinks ad libitum, for all guests. Then something called “going away” food – another meal at the end of the event. I should point out here that these dinners last for several hours. Then comes phase 4, the gifts – and believe me, these gifts are expensive. The minimum expectation is that guests will buy gifts to the value of the meal they received. In fact, I hear it’s very common for some to be critical of the quality and value of gifts received if they are not up to the expected standard. That’s what I heard anyway…
Given this backdrop, I was gradually manouevred into accepting that sandwiches at Montana for close family only was not going to be adequate and much to my shame now, I acquiesced.
Of course, this whole procedure is classic well everyone does it. The ultimate peer pressure of parents feeling they are letting their children down if they don’t do it and then their desire to keep up with and overtake the Joneses – or should that be Jensens? The desire to keep up is what probably comes first, not the child. A rough calculation in my head suggests it cost about £3-4,000 per child and while the food was great, are you seriously saying it’s good value for money? I can honestly say now that I did not enjoy either day. The stress, tribulations and fakery are really not worth it. It all feels like a gigantic sham.
As for helping your children learn the correct value of something, what could be more important than learning the value of family and the value of money? Doesn’t confirmation help give children some of those values?
My side of the family invested greatly in being present for their grandchildren and since 2016, they’ve been treated as subhuman by my children – ignored and considered irrelevant. It comes to something when your own granddaughter can’t even be bothered to walk down a flight of stairs to say hello to a grandmother she hadn’t seen for ages and that after her grandfather had died. I expect the grandmother will be ignored again this summer. The people who think it’s okay to do that should be ashamed of themselves, as should the shallow people who consider it a victory to help it happen.
As to the money, no luck there either. The 6,000 krone gift to my eldest daughter dissipated into nothing. it doesn’t really help when a bank gives a 13 year old a debit card, does it? However, you can’t really blame the casino when a gambler goes bust – I remember a period of her ordering things online and tried to intervene – after all, I sensed a financial black hole in the offing. My attempts to broach the subject were rebuffed by all parties – the resident modern childcare expert told me to let her get on with it. I remember my daughters tears some weeks later when she admitted the account was empty – that there was nothing left. Looking at it through the lens of 2019, I can see though that here there never is nothing left, there’s always Dovendanskerbidrag or such form thereof. A most dangerous lesson indeed. Why, I could almost imagine the government inventing another bidrag related to the concept of konfirmation, so the parasites can stay fed.
So if anything, Konfirmation is another confirmation of being hammered into something I didn’t want to be and never could be, a square peg into a round hole. I think I’ll just remain a square, thanks. Oh and can I have that hammer back?