This Christmas, I noticed so many families saying they were significantly cutting down their shopping. Whether it be opting for a Secret Sant style ordeal or purchasing gifts for just little ones in the family, as Christmas has gotten quite out of control over the years. A real “crisis” I would say has come from the term Christmas, fuelling consumerism, rather than the focus of the holiday being on spending time with loved ones. I especially bad for this, because I LOVE giving gifts. I really don’t like surprises, and hence don’t love receiving gifts, but something about finding a gift that represents the person so well makes me feel quite accomplished. I spend all year keeping lists on my phone and anytime I hear someone say “oh I wish I had this,” I write it on my list, so that when birthdays and holidays come around, I know I will be getting them something they actually want. For each of the presents I purchased this season, I really tried to ensure they were going to be beneficial for the individual, and not just another item that gets put away in a closet and never used, thanks to my handy-dandy lists. However, I wished I had decided to purchase sustainable gift options from local retailers, but instead, due to a lack of time, I ordered just about everything from Amazon, simply due to the convenience and availability of products.
In order to shift away from a consumerist mentality, an awesome way to give Christmas gifts that I learned of this year, was through a snowman tower. The base box is filled with toys or a larger item. The middle with clothes, and the top with cash, gift cards, or treats. By physically limiting the space you have to place wrapped gifts, this helps to prevent going overboard with buying items that you see and know someone will love, because you can only buy what will fit into each of the layers!
Having never really placed too much thought into how consumerism affects less fortunate families, I found social media to be incredibly informative this year, providing insights into what this holiday has really turned into. In terms of gift giving, something I came across that was really interesting was the idea of having larger gifts come from parents rather than Santa, as many kids in less fortunate homes then begin to think they were “bad kids” or Santa doesn’t love them, which is heartbreaking. It was articles such as this, that really opened my eyes into the vulnerability of children and how much these holidays affect them, and the pressure that is placed on parents as a result. For more on this concept, check out this blog.
There are SO many reasons to transition towards creating traditions for these holidays that are not based around gift giving. Rather than buying everyone presents, being present is so much more valuable and I think in the near future a shift towards actually spending time with one another will become the trend. As opposed to buying gifts, using that money towards a small vacation instead to provide lifelong memories, rather than short-term enjoyment is just one transition that I have seen many families start to partake in.
It’s so easy to go out and slowly buy things throughout the year that suit a person, only to realize by the holiday season you have accumulated an excessive number of items, but at the end of the day, they are just things. I don’t want to be someone who provides things to others, I want to create and cherish moments.
Next Christmas, I will be in Tasmania, Australia, celebrating with family that I haven’t spent this holiday with in over five years, so let’s see how well I do at keeping to these suggestions. I have two younger siblings there and it’s so easy to buy them gifts, so that they know I love them, even if I’m not with them, but in reality, that shouldn’t be how love is shown. I’m looking forward to shopping local, finding sustainable alternatives to products, and making sure my presence goes a long way.