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How Consumerism Stole Christmas

As a kid, I loved everything about Christmas: annual traditions like baking cookies with my mom, listening to Michael Bublé’s Christmas album and letter writing.

Every year without fail, I would write a letter to Santa and tell him exactly what I wanted. I don’t think he came through even once. But that’s probably because I asked for a kitten 5 years in a row – my sister is allergic to cats.

Instead, “Santa” gave me things I needed, like socks. Along with a boatload of things I didn’t need. Toys, games, books, chocolate; all given out of love but ultimately without a lasting impact on my life. The only gift I remember from my childhood was my first pet: Fluffy the hamster.

Is it worth it? To spend all that money on gifts that bring brief satisfaction and then fade into obscurity? Because there are billions of people that do just that.

There’s a huge Christmas economy that feeds on this desire to buy buy buy and show our vast financial generosity. We buy gifts for two reasons: to show how much we love someone or to show how much we spent on someone.

There’s a price on Christmas now and it’s $100 plus HST.

‘Here, I got you this pearl-encrusted-hair-tie-holder you’ll never use because I bought it on my vacation to Fiji and I just wanted to remind you that I thought of you while I was lying in the sand drinking a piña colada.’
If you can’t afford a pearl-encrusted-hair-tie-holder or you didn’t go to Fiji, there’s still a plethora of cheap Christmas-themed novelties that are shoved in your face everywhere you go.

It’s so easy to be hooked in; you go to the grocery store to pick up eggs and you come back with ten Terry’s Chocolate Oranges for your distant relatives because you must get them something.
There’s a materialistic obsession gripping our society and it’s spawning from our privilege to buy whatever we please, whenever we please.

How do we break the cycle? How do we show our endless love for the people we care about, without falling victim to the pattern of buy, collect dust and eventually discard?

Gifts don’t have to be material

This year, I’m making some donations to charities on behalf of my extended family. It’s also not a crime to just write someone a letter letting them know you love them.

If you’ve ever seen How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (NOT the Jim Carrey live action remake) then you know that despite taking the trees, the presents, and the last can of Who-hash, the Grinch didn’t stop Christmas from coming.

It came, just the same, because the foundations of Christmas are built on much more than presents and decorations.
Maybe reconsider the next time you feel the urge to buy a prepackaged spa basket for your Mom on Christmas Eve because you couldn’t think of anything else to get her. Don’t buy simply for the sake of buying. Chances are the three hours you spent choosing it could have been spent with your Mom, singing Michael Bublé in the kitchen with flour on your pants decorating gingerbread men.


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