Some people like to rant at this time of year about how sad it is that Christmas has become so commercialized. The sentiment is understandable: Starting in early October, it feels like three holidays get squished into one monstrosity I call “Hallowthanksmas” (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).
The whole mess is similar to that culinary item, the Turducken, three birds stuffed inside the other (turkey, duck, chicken), and roasted in the oven. It might be tasty, but we can get truly confused as to what it all means.
Personally, I try not let the endless advertising get in the way of spreading some cheer. The Grinches of the world will use this blatant commercialism to discourage the rest of us from trying to get in the spirit of things, as if they are somehow morally superior. Again, I kind of understand: Ninety percent of the year, advertising is geared towards satisfying me, myself and I, in an almost endless loop of self-gratification.
But what exactly is wrong with people giving each other gifts? Is it really so terrible to think about someone other than ourselves for a change? It’s nice to think about making someone else happy: What others like, and what others might need to make their lives a little more fun or productive, peaceful or pleasant.
If you don’t have any money or really want to strike a blow against consumerism, make something by hand, or print up a coupon that promises something nice to someone you care about: Babysitting services, a massage, or a home cooked meal, whatever you think that person needs.
I have personally given, and received these kinds of coupons, and they always put a smile on people’s faces, not once but twice: The first time being when they get the coupon, and the second time when that person cashes in the coupon, and you follow through and deliver the promised service.
The worst part of all the anti-holiday sentiment, is that most of it comes from the “I’m trendier than you” crowd, while sipping their Starbucks peppermint lattes , and being hypnotized by their I-phone screens. If you really feel the urge to make an anti-consumerism statement, instead of stomping on our holiday cheer, here’s a challenge: Try a “buy nothing month”.
Excluding essentials like groceries, bus passes or gas for your car, and all the bills one needs to pay, for one month, don’t by anything you really don’t need. No new books, no going out to movies, no expensive coffee, no restaurant food, no bottled water, etc. I’ve done it more times than I can remember, and believe me, that kind of non-consumerism saves you tons of money, and really changes your attitude.
Volunteering your time can also do wonders for your spirits. Plenty of charities need extra help during the holiday season, why not pitch in? Best of all, you don’t have to spend any money, just your time: Now that’s walking the talk against consumerism!
I do agree that whichever holidays you celebrate, they should be about caring for each other. Don’t let the commercials, advertising flyers, spam, popup ads, and store displays convince you otherwise: It’s not the about how much money we spend, but the good times we have together that matters.
Laugh, play games, do good deeds and I think you will find a positive spirit growing inside of you, that just might last well into the new year.
Wishing you all peace, love, health and happiness!