There is something to be said for being a tight-fisted Scrooge over the holiday season, particularly when the world is so invested in making consumerism a fundamental part of celebrating.
Leading up to holidays, it is extremely hard to avoid being saturated with advertisements encouraging consumerism in some way, shape, or form. Buy more is the underlying motto, because if you don’t, you’re a Scrooge or a Grinch.
Anyone can take a strong stand against consumerism, needless waste, and capitalism by reviewing their own celebratory rites and substituting them in for ones which are more Earth-friendly and people-friendly. Let’s take a look at some of these.
The rite of gift exchange.
There are a number of factors involved in the giving of gifts. The expectation is that you need to buy gifts for all the important people in your life, wrap them up, and at the time of celebration, exchange these gifts, unwrap them, and throw away the wrapping.
Instead of buying, collect and make gifts.
Make your own wrapping paper, boxes, or bags… or forego wrapping altogether.
Gift it forward - everyone only buys/makes one gift for one assigned person. It can be made into a game eg. Secret Santa.
Scrub the gift exchange rite and replace it with something else, for example a family/friend cricket day.
The rite of celebratory eating.
There are often special meals and favourite foods enjoyed over the holiday season, with many people celebrating with various foods on the actual celebration day, leading to food wastage, leftovers, overeating, and sluggish sleeps in the afternoons.
A traditional Polish Christmas dinner. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Spread out celebratory foods over a few days like you would meal plan for a week.
Make food in smaller amounts if variety is the flavour of the day.
Eat for the season and climate which you live in.
Everyone brings one plate only.
Instead of focusing on a mealtime as a celebratory rite, focus on an activity and have food on the sidelines.
The rite of family/friend hopping
This is when people end up celebrating more than once. Some families will end up celebrating two or three times in one day with family or friends. More gifts are needed, more food is needed, and there is less time to enjoy the day.
Politely decline invitations and celebrate once.
Have one big celebration by merging families and friends
Spread out visits over the season if the purpose is to catch up with friends and family.
The rite of polite niceties
Candy canes, holiday cards, chocolate eggs, thank-you cards and so on are given out to family, friends, acquantinces, teachers and so on. It is considered terribly wude of you to not engage.
Send emails instead. At least e-mail spam only takes up inbox space and a person’s time.
Announce it on a box with a megaphone - thank everyone loudly for their contributions and wish them all a good holiday.
Make phone calls.
Put it on Facebook as a public announcement.
The rite of decorations
Xmas bling with accompanying gifts. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
There was a time where celebrating a season meant decorating with materials collected from the land to celebrate harvests and passage of seasons. A tree would be chopped down and saved for the next season’s yule log, plants would be twisted into wreaths, seeds, fruit, root vegies would be collected and a few reserved for a decorative display and so on. Nowdays it is all about buying decorations. Bright glittery tinsel, balls, baskets, lights, foam statues and so on. Many houses have Xmas bling these days come December, and add to it with electricity consumption to power all those lights and blinking displays.
Pinecones still exist in the wild! You can even bling them up using paint, glue and glitter if you need that.
Substitute artificial decorations with natural materials you can collect over the year.
Remove anything that uses electricity. Use solar fairy lights for the garden for atmosphere instead.
Save all your decor for a bonfire after the day of celebration passes. Farewell the season with a blaze. Burn it all. Note that such decor should of course be natural materials like sticks, leafy boughs, pinecones and such. Artificial decor is not recommended for a blaze. (I cannot believe this has to be said but you know some people…)
There is also the option of giving up celebratory holidays which have became about consumerist culture more than anything else. Boycott them. Go on a strike. Don’t be shy about it either. You can also do this every once in a while, or give it up completely.
Sit back and watch the social conditioning and pressure kick in. We all must conform to the holidays everyone else celebrates or else it upsets people. Conform or don’t. It’s your call but at least reconsider the impact your celebrations have on your wallet, the planet and what it is teaching your children.
For many ordinary families its not a matter of choosing not to buy into the consumerist pressure to spend money at Christmas it's a reality of them simply not being able to afford to.
It's all well and good for well off middle class types to feel smug for not "giving in" to corporate pressure to buy presents at Xmas whilst the working classes turn to pay day loan sharks to be able to afford to give their kids something nice once a year.
If families want to celebrate giftmas, but do not have the money to do so, these anti-consumerism suggestions would help them to celebrate Christmas within their financial means to do so. [URL http://wholewoman.hubgarden.com/saving-the-planet-and-your-money-this-christmas/ Saving the planet and your money this Christmas] also has more suggestions. It should not matter what class system one attributes themselves to - people can still choose to not engage in supporting capitalism and consumerism and put their money where it counts (like nice things for their kids).