We lost our Christmas tree. I’m not sure how one manages to lose a tree, but we did. Giving no fucks about having a big, flashy tree, this year we’re using a small cardboard pop-out Christmas tree as “the tree”.
The only person I’ve bought Christmas presents for this year is my child. You would practically have to be the Grinch himself to not gift a child something after they spent weeks creating decorations and learning about Santa at school. We showed them the first gift under the tree and explained about waiting until Christmas day to open it. They eagerly inspected the wrapped present, investigating it from every angle, gently weighing it in their hands before boldly announcing, “I hope it’s an iPad!”
So this is what it feels like. Maybe everyone else already knows what it feels like, which is why I knew the feeling existed. I would never gift a young child their own iPad — let alone Apple products — but that’s another story. Yet instantly, I felt hideously torn up that the gift wasn’t an iPad! An outrage to myself.
No one wants their child to be unhappy with their gifts. This got me thinking about the countless families that can’t buy their children iPads, the several others that do, the children that never learn to value their material possessions, and those that value nothing but their material possessions.
Christmas is consumerism
It seems that every public holiday is now a shopping holiday (most ironically including ‘Labour Day’). As a society, we are under pressure to do Christmas in the form of buying trinkets, toys, and engorging ourselves in an all-day gluttonous feast, as if we don’t over-eat every other day of the year.
What a demoralising time it must be for those that go without: self-esteem plummets, people are left feeling inadequate and guilty that they couldn’t do more. Meanwhile the other half are indulging in decadent food (half of which will get thrown out), have spent thousands of dollars on gifts and lavish decorations to enjoy. This happens in the context of the same celebratory day of giving.
Why would Santa give so much more to those who already have plenty? My ethics are certainly anti-Christmas in these terms. However, Christmas is so prevalent that I eschew my own morals and reluctantly participate, as there’s simply no avoiding it. How could I hold out on my child and say “there isn’t going to be a Christmas” when they’ve been exposed to the advertising for weeks on end, and it’s all their friends have been talking about?
What is anti-consumerism?
Consumerism is the continual, often frivolous, buying and consuming of material possessions. Anti-consumerism opposes this for many reasons, including concerns with the environment, human and animal rights, and globalization.
Waste bothers me year-round, but it really peaks at Christmas. I can’t bear all the unnecessary, cheap junk. So much of which — unappreciated and unhelpful — gets tossed in the rubbish the next day, gets returned, resold or re-gifted.
We just love to romanticize how “thoughtful” any gift is, but are they really? Does propping up big business and rejecting our duty to the planet qualify as thoughtful, these days? Instead of buying something, make something; instead of spending money, spend time. And if you have to buy something, make it useful.