Last week I was inundated with communications about Black Friday which left me feeling not just cold but frozen. Not only do I not want to be thinking about Christmas whilst it is still November, just the thought of all that consumerism brought me out in a cold sweat.
I am not anti-Christmas, far from it. I love the opportunity to get together with my family for a few days, eat and drink far too much, hopefully have a good tramp across the beach or fields and lounge in front of a good film or two. In the past, I have also been very guilty of over-indulging in present buying, leaving my purse feeling very ill and giving gifts that probably ended up either in the charity shop or lounging at the back of some dark cupboard.
Wishing for a simpler season
The more I talk to friends, family and colleagues, the more I feel I am not in the minority in wanting to de-commercialise Christmas and bring back some of the magic that I remember as a child when expectations were lower. It seems there is so much pressure on us now to give the perfect gift or throw an amazing party, that by the time it gets to 25th December, we are so frazzled and exhausted, we don’t enjoy it.
We live in a poverty-stricken world today – not only is there financial poverty, there is also time poverty – we race through our lives trying to pack in as much as possible with little time to catch our breath or live in the moment. If we are wealthy enough to buy ‘stuff’ we often find we don’t have time to use it, so that must-have gadget received last Christmas, has probably spent most of the year languishing at the back of the cupboard.
The need for a mid-winter celebration
We do need an opportunity to celebrate in mid-winter. With short days, often grey and gloomy skies and plummeting temperatures, we need something to lift our spirits, give us an opportunity to get off the treadmill to spend time with loved ones and hopefully be outside to recharge our batteries in nature.
We could however do with less commercialism, less pressure to spend lots of money to create the ‘perfect Christmas’ and more emphasis on the value of time together enjoying the wonders of our environment.
If you want gifts under the tree, instead of the latest shiny gadget promoted on TV adverts, find something unique and original made by local craftspeople. If you’re creative yourself, make your own gifts – not only does it demonstrate the depth of your feelings, the experience of making something should improve your mental health and feelings of self-worth.
The gift of time and company
And for that hard to buy relative, give them an experience they won’t forget. Treat them to a day out somewhere – give of your time and company. Often memories last longer than ‘stuff’ and can be shared by more people.
So, as we enter December, take a moment to think how you can make Christmas a truly magical time. Keep it simple, focus on spending time with people who make you feel good, doing things that make you happy. Don’t feel forced to overindulge in buying presents. If in doubt give the gift of your time.