Monthly Archives: December 2012

Christmas: a time for giving or a time for mindless consumerism

It’s THAT time of year again. Every day on the news we are given the exact number of days left until Christmas. Cue sigh. When I was younger I adored Christmas. I went crazy buying gifts for everyone I knew, and wrapped them in lavish paper to be posted all over the country. I dreamed of glittering table decorations and feasts. However, the last few years have seen my enthusiasm wane to the point where this year the thought of Christmas fills me with dread.

What does Christmas even mean anymore? It feels like a hollow obligation. We must spend it with family, whether we want to or not. Gifts must be purchased for a varied assortment of people in our lives, and rarely is it something they really need. This mass consumerism is depressing, costing us more than we can really afford (can anyone say ‘credit card bill’) and fills our cupboards and bins with more things we don’t use. Over the years, I have given up pretty wrapping. I flat out refuse to buy cards and if your gift is wrapped, usually it will be a recycled gift bag, recycled paper or, in one case, lolly bags made from the pages of old magazines (that did not go down well at work).

This year I have pledged to only buy gifts from local craftspeople or small business. I refuse to go to the big shopping centers and give my money to the massive conglomerates. I have drastically reduced the list of who I will buy for, and our children will get money in their bank accounts instead of toys or clothing. I’m hoping these small acts go some way to reducing the negative impacts of Christmas on the planet and on my pocket.

What I long to do is fly the whole family to a developing country and volunteer our time. Just the four of us, spending time together, bonding over a shared experience and giving to people who really need it. When I first mentioned this to my husband, I expected to get a funny look and some statement about Christmas being a time for family. What I got was a statement of support. I loved him even more in that minute. While we won’t be doing it this year, I think it’s something we will seriously consider for future years.

In the meantime if you’re lucky enough to get my home made truffles, expect them in a magazine lolly bag.

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