I love presents and I love giving presents, and I do believe it is the giving, not the gift, that counts. But as a society, we have been molded and coerced to think that more is better.
This is reflected in almost everything we do. Christmas and the desire to consume is a reflection of this.
I am happy not to have a TV at home, but when I am exposed to broadcasting on the TV, I am sickened by all the commercials indicating we need this, we can show our love by buying this, or by the reports and discussions of the shopping for the holiday season.
This coercion has become normal to us, but it is very new to my 4-year-old, and the message they are giving her that she wants these products is ear-splitting as she begs, “Can I have that? I want that.” I ask her what it is and she does not even know. She just knows she wants it.
This has come about mostly from the greed of the few that wish consumers to buy their products, and we have fallen for it! However, I think very slowly we are starting to change and beginning to realize that this is a scam at our expense! I believe [we] average U.S. citizens are waking up from the artificially induced fog placed on us by those who wish to monetarily benefit from this delusion; at least, I hope.
Christmas, nor any other holiday, is not about consuming and giving our loved ones the latest gadget, despite what advertisers will tell you.
But we do enjoy gift giving and receiving, so let us — instead of lining the big man’s pocket at ours and our environment’s expense — try and make some lasting changes this year.
Here are a few helpful suggestions:
1. Buy local goods: These are usually smaller business people and often the ingredients from the products have not been shipped from China. This saves on environmental costs of transport and keeps our money local.
2. Buy things that are not things but still fun: This can be movie theater passes, restaurant gift certificates, massages, ice skating rink tickets, driving range coupons, concert tickets or any other event/activity that the receiver would enjoy. This also extends the euphoria of Christmas gift getting because even after Christmas you have something to look forward to. One of the best gifts I ever gave was two tickets to see the Globetrotters with my young son. We normally would never have done this, but we spent quality, memorable time together that is priceless.
3. Pay a loved one’s bill or buy groceries for the month: One of my sons was struggling through school and working like a dog. He needed a good car to get to work so he bought one at a buy-here-pay-here. This was great that he was able to do this, but also very expensive for him. One year for Christmas, I paid his car payment (they were more than happy to take my money even without the proper paperwork). He could not have been more surprised or happy to find at Christmastime he had no car payment and a little extra money.
4. Buy educational classes: This can be any class the recipient would enjoy, but would otherwise not have spent the money on themselves. The arts such as painting, pottery or musical instrument lessons may interest family members. Or maybe they are more physical and would like dance, karate or yoga.
5. Donate for others: For the people who always wished they could do more for society, but have never found the time nor money, donate to a charity that they would support. Many charities promote “financially adopting” such as sponsoring a child or an animal or planting a tree.
We can prove to the big manufacturers that we have minds of our own and do not need to be told what we need, and in doing so, we can take back our holidays and give the gifts that truly show our love, while supporting our local communities.
— Jennifer Haney
(Editor’s Note: The writer adds that she is a “... local biologist for the Mountain Conservation Trust of Georgia, a Tennessee resident and a mother of five.”)