Ok so it’s not really a war on Christmas. After all, who could be mad at this?
What I’m mad about is the consumerism and materialism associated with Christmas. I’m mad about the constant message that we need to buy stuff (as if we didn’t have enough ‘stuff’ already). And what I’m the most mad about is that our kids are the ones being most affected by this.
The media convinces them that they absolutely can’t do without the latest piece of plastic crap that is made in a sweat shop somewhere overseas and will be broken before the day is out. It’s a waste of our money, a waste of the Earth’s resources and a waste of our children’s innocent wonder and curiosity of the natural world around them.
I’m one of the few, lucky parents whose kids aren’t exposed to TV ads plus I’ve been homeschooling for the past year so my two have no idea what the latest, coolest, must-have toy is. In fact we only discovered what a fidget spinner was about two weeks ago (when Leah started her new school…).
Despite this, I still witness each year how my kids open one present and then barely glance at it before moving on to the next and the next and the next. How has it happened that my beautiful children have become so ungrateful? Too. Much. Stuff. It’s like some crazy addiction where they just keep wanting more.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want my kids to have an addiction to ‘stuff’, thank you very much.
And ‘more stuff’, by the way, does not lead to ‘more sharing’ and ‘more choice’.
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When I see my kids fighting over an empty cardboard toilet roll whilst ignoring the boxes of toys strewn about the place, I’m reminded of Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Mary was bigger than Laura, and she had a rag doll named Nettie. Laura had only a corncob wrapped in a handkerchief, but it was a good doll. It was named Susan.
And I think to myself, ‘one day I’m going to throw out all of their toys and make them each a doll out of an empty toilet roll, wrapped in a handkerchief.’
So what is to be done at Christmas with the expectation/threat of more stuff arriving in your home from well-meaning friends and relatives?
Ask for experiences instead of stuff. Chances are your kid is not going to remember or appreciate yet another stuffed toy half as much as a trip to the zoo or the beach.
For the kids:
- A trip to your nearest zoo or aquarium or, even better, a family annual pass so you can go whenever you want to.
- Swimming lessons (or ballet lessons, guitar lessons, trapeze lessons…)
- A picnic at the beach.
- Tickets to a show.
- Tickets to a sports game.
For the grown-ups:
- A massage.
- A fishing trip.
- Tickets to a show or a sports game.
- A cooking class.
- A workshop.
- An open invitation to babysit your kids so you can have a night out.
When I really need to buy ‘stuff’ such as books, craft materials or things to put in the advent calendar, I get most of it from second-hand shops. Not only does this save me a ton of cash but I feel good that the gifts have a low carbon footprint and the money I pay for them are going to a good cause. And the kids (especially the little ones) don’t care one bit whether their gift is brand new or not.
How do you achieve a more minimalistic Christmas? Or do you love all the excess? Let me know!