This is a re-post from here.
The Christmas advertisements are already being shown on TV- something that most of us will have complained about. The money machine is limbering up…
But if we want to do something differently, then we too will need to make some preparations.
It is my conviction that although most of us love to celebrate Christmas, we do not feel in control of what happens to us each year. It comes at us like a massive snowball rolling down the hill, gathering all in it’s path. Bigger and bigger.
The controlling factors that result in our powerlessness are complex, but I think some of these things have been part of our experience-
- Collective momentum- none of us are immune from the power of advertising, particularly when all around us people shop till they drop.
- Making it special- and because of our consumer driven context, this means more consumption. More shiny stuff for the kids, and more booze and gadgets for the adults.
- Busyness- most of us simply lack the head space to think our way into a different way of doing things. It is all we can do just to go with the flow.
- Obligation- present buying is a socially stressful activity. Getting the right balance between cost/quirkyness/suitability is a pressure for more of us. This is because we value our friends, and do not want to give offence. Remember those awful moments when someone gives you a present and you realise you have not given them one? Do you keep ‘spare’ presents just in case this happens?
- Lack of viable alternatives- what else would we do? Faced with this, we reluctantly end up just doing the same.
All this suggests to me that if we want to change our approach to Christmas, we have to make plans well in advance.
We will need to negotiate/discuss with our family and our friends. It might mean different solutions for different groups.
We are part of a community called Aoradh– and last night, we made a start towards our different kind of Christmas.
Sarah (our 11 year old super-chef) had baked cupcakes. At the base of each cake was a name, revealed as we ate. Later on we will eat another meal together, and exchange gifts only with the person whose name we drew.
The rules are- gifts can be something you have made, or a promise for the new year (babysitting, grass cutting, chest waxing or whatever) or if you need to buy something then that is fine, but you must spend little.
Will this be less special? Will our community be showing less love and committment to one another? I rather think the opposite- it has already been a means of bringing us closer, having fun- and of course, eating together. We do a lot of that…