Nothing screams mass consumerism, greed and environmentally unsustainable practices like the current form Christmas takes in the developed world. Long gone are the days when children received a modest toy/s from either Santa or their parents and then got a hanky or some soap from their grandparents while adults received a tasteful but well thought out present/s.
Now we live in a world where most people, including children, have far too many material goods (usually bought on some form of credit or savings for a ‘rainy day’. Meanwhile the rainy day comes e.g. the car breaks down or the house needs repairs and they are screwed), are happy to live above their means, especially when it comes to Christmas, and think being in debt for items they don’t actually NEED (differentiating between needs and wants is so important in this over commercialised world) or use enough of to constitute its price is a normal way to live. In other words, they live a champagne life on a beer wage THEN THEY WONDER WHY THEY ARE STRESSED AND POOR?!?!? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not just Christmas when this occurs. Weddings are another big money wasting event but unlike Christmas people don’t get married every year (Larry King and Liz Taylor gave it a red, hot go though).
But Grinchella, I hear people say, Christmas is ALL about family and spending time with family etc. etc. etc. Is it, though? Is it really??? Or is that just what people tell themselves to help them sleep better at night while trying to convince themselves they had to go into debt to create a ‘good’ Christmas otherwise how else will their family know they love them??? People can claim it’s all about family as much as they like but in Australia, a country that only has a population of 24 million approx, last year (2014) alone people spent $45 billion AUD in the months leading up to Christmas. FORTY-FIVE BILLION AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS?!?!? What a fucking joke!
IF, Christmas was all about family and spending time with them, and that’s a big IF, then as a nation we would not have spent anywhere near $45 billion last year. I don’t know many children these days, if any even exist in the developed world, who would be grateful and appreciative to spend a nice Christmas day with their family if they didn’t get any presents at all or if all they got was a needs based present or something like some nice soap or a hanky. Or better yet, taken to a charity to do some volunteer work. They spend all year around with their family, if they are lucky, so when it comes to Christmas very few children really give a toss about spending the day with their family. Let’s stop trying to bs each other and state the truth: for the majority of families Christmas is about presents, gluttony and having your mother clean up after you. Now, I am sure there are sensible, rational, families out there who do not spend like lunatics and get themselves into debt but clearly with $45 billion being spent last year leading up to Christmas these people are the exceptions, not the rules.
Then there is the environmental impact of Christmas. Compulsory present buying for far too many people in one person’s social network leads to buying any thoughtless gift in an attempt to seem like we care and where does that present usually end up? In the same place the uneaten food, disposable plates, cutlery and unwanted decorations end up. Good, old landfill! I could go on and on about everything I find distasteful with the current Christmas system (and, believe me, there is so much more I could write) but I won’t because I have made enough points so far. One day I would like to host my own version of Christmas minus the materialism and the environmental carelessness. It will be a needs focused Christmas cultivating simple, thoughtful presents that the receiver will truly use, and will really work towards fostering people’s gratitude and appreciation for how lucky we are living in a developed and stable country. It will be more like a Thanksgiving without the commercialism that holiday also reeks of.
So here it is, my ideal Christmas…
We live in a busy world (too busy) and Christmas always gets left to the last minute (probably another reason why so much money is wasted due to ‘panicked’ buying) by most people. Instead of focusing on unimportant things such as the tree, decorations, perfect table setting, presents etc. remember what everyone claims Christmas is about but hardly anyone acts out; family.
Do you think your family won’t have a good time if your house doesn’t look like a tinsel and bauble factory exploded in it? Do you think that your family will think less of you if you don’t have a magazine-cover table setting? I am sure there are people out there who do have shallow and superficial family members who would snub their egotistical noses in the air but we all know people like that are miserable, wretched creatures brimming with self-loathing and hate so if they can’t focus on the family aspect and must have the best of the best in order to have a good Christmas then fuck them! They can stay at their own perfect display-home house and have their picture perfect, soulless Christmas. No one needs douchebags like that around any time of the year.
All wrapping paper, cards, decorations etc. are to be made of recycled paper/cardboard and, of course, biodegradable. All plates, cups and cutlery are to either be biodegradable or recyclable. Food needs to be bought with care. Nothing is to be wasted and if the host doesn’t think they will finish all the food they are to make sure their guests take some home so nothing is thrown out.
Acts of charity all year through are so important but when you have your family together they can be even more incredible. Plan something to do Christmas or Boxing Day that gives back to the community. Whether it is volunteering somewhere, donating money or goods to an organisation or just planting trees or picking up rubbish. Giving back to a country that gives so many freedoms with your family around you is the only way to make a good Christmas great.
Unwrapping presents, if any are to be given (a giftless Christmas would be nice), is not to be the first thing done. Delayed gratification and showing that presents are not the main aim of the game should be acted out not just claimed to be the case than proven to be false. After all, how is the day about family if everyone tears into their presents like savage animals and then the children make off elsewhere in order to play with said gifts? This practice puts too much emphasis on the presents and not on ‘spending time with family’.
Unwrapping presents should be done with each gift giver telling the receiver why they chose the present (without giving away what the present is) and how that present reminded the giver of the receiver. If you can’t think of anything to buy someone (either the person ‘has everything’ or you don’t know them well enough) then don’t buy a bs, thoughtless gift from the cheapo shop. Not only is it a waste of money the present will end up being a burden on the environment when it is thrown out that night (even though any unwanted presents should be given to charity so it has a chance of being re-homed). Bake some biscuits or buy a voucher that the person can use instead. A voucher can still be given in a loving and caring way and is going to be utilised much better than a thoughtless gift will be. Better yet, do Secret Santa, that way you all save money and give the environment even more of a break. It’s about the quality of thought, not the quantity of material gain.
Keep it small! Words like small, tasteful, meaningful etc. get bantered around so much these days but are hardly ever acted out. Children who get given everything they don’t need grow up to be adults who can’t differentiate between needs and wants and who have no idea how to manage their finances or materialism. Using credit or all your savings are not viable ways to fund any event, especially an annual one like Christmas. If you can’t afford something then skip it and look for more budget suitable options.
Christmas retail sales hit record numbers, peak body says; average $2,500 each spent by those over 14.
Australians to spend $43b over Christmas
Published: 1:15 pm, Tuesday, 25 November 2014
Christmas Shopping: How Australians Spend Their Money During The Silly Season
22 JAN 2015