This time of the year brings mixed feelings.
I know what I’m supposed to feel. I know what I’m supposed to do. We all do. We’ve been trained from birth–especially if you’re American:
The presents, the music, the the turkey, stuffing, egg nog, green bean bake, red and green overload, money, something for me, something for you, another for me, gift sets, new seasonal products, a new tree, ornaments, lights, ribbons, wrapping paper, tape, table settings…
Blah blah blah.
The messages of consumerism to spend and buy, take and waste, are leaving a funny aftertaste. I’ve definitely partaken my share of disposable fun throughout my life but each passing year, especially around this time, I almost feel dirty.
We, the people, are being “forced” to partake. It isn’t about the thoughts that count, it’s about the need for business to count mo’ money, mo’ money, mo money!
I’ve wondered why we have to wait for this one time of the year to be in the spirit of giving. Shouldn’t we be giving all year long? Think about Valentines Day. I love that holiday. It’s about love. And love should is 365/24/7, right? Yet, I know, it isn’t a real holiday–it’s a Hallmark Holiday. Well, what about Christmas? When are we going to call it a Retail/Big Business Holiday? Ahem?!
Ok I’m really not a Debbie Downer, so I apologize if I’m squashing any glittery spirit out there *that’s what champagne is for, darlings…* BUT why are we so focused on material things? Why are we being brainwashed to buy and buy some more? How did we get here? Here is another thought: WWJD?
Why do we have to show our love and appreciation for others with stuff? Isn’t it supposed to be about the time, relationships, the love, the genuine LOVE? The stuff is what is killing us. Literally.
Now let’s jump a thought-stream 💫
When I went to beautiful Kauai this summer for the first time, I appreciated the natural island rawness. There was a certain peace with the simple, less-developed Hawaiian island. But during a walk along the beach, I was shocked when I came across a wasteland of washed up plastics.
I even found this entire mini-ecosystem developed on a hard plastic cap, about the size of my fist, floating on the shore. Everything on it was alive, and there was a lot. Algae, mollusks, barnacles—you could see the little creatures breathing in and out of their shell. Beautiful. But also sad.
I wonder how much time it took for this floating marine-life microcosm to get to this state and thus, how long has this plastic been floating around the ocean? How healthy, or not, are these pieces of life, living literally on plastic?
And now we jump back 💫
The materialism, consumerism, stuff, junk, waste that we will buy and receive this weekend will end up on the beach. It will. UNLESS– ?
Well, there are a million things we could do on so many levels, but here are a few creative ideas my crazy and concerned mind came up with:
Stop the Spending and Spend the Time
Last year, I proposed the idea of not exchanging gifts to my family. Frowns. Then I said Xmas should only come once every five years. More frowns. I’m not saying to ban the holiday, I’m just talking about the super spending part of it.
Give and Receive Local Style
Make a pact to exchange gift certificates or gift cards to local eateries or local activities. These are experiences, not stuff. These are opportunities to love, share, bond. Or I guess you could use it as quality alone time too. Nonetheless, it isn’t stuff. Just make sure to clean your plate. And of course, if using a gift card, be sure to leave it with the restaurant when empty so they can recycle it.
Elephants Do Not Have to Be Extinct
The white elephant is nothing to be afraid of. You can twist the idea to be modern, meaningful and fun. Agree to exchange something laying around the house. It doesn’t have to be junk or junky. Be modern and clever. You can have a theme, let’s say “NWNWT”. So everyone would bring some article of clothing that is new, never worn. Or what about a “Not MY Jam” theme centered around beauty products. You can bring in stuff you bought and barely used, baring all common-hygiene-sense, of course.
Let’s go back to simpler times. Think creatively. Be mindful. Be present. Be conscious. Do this to keep this from becoming extinct: