This week in Sunday Life I anti-Christmas
Christmas is like cheap pizza – all cheesy, intoxicating promise, but somehow (so disappointingly!) winds up tasting like cardboard.
Actually, correction. Christmas is like cheap pizza to the violently lactose and gluten-intolerant – something everyone else seems to enjoy, while you get…tofu.
Why all the bah humbuggery? At the core of my festive deflation is the mass, crass, exhausting, relationship-compromising ritual of buying presents. Did you see that Black Friday footage from the US? The whole notion of massly, crassly buying up stuff for “loved ones” seems to send human nature to its most depraved base. And the fact that it’s such a far cry from the original premise of festive giving just deepens my malaise. As, I think, it does for so many.
Admittedly my family as a whole is particularly and notoriously awkward with the ritual of gift-giving. We always keep our receipts; invariably our Kris Kringle recipient feels guilty accepting anything isn’t wholly functional and necessary. Um, I just don’t think I’ll get maximum salad-making use out of the hand-carved bowl you paddled three days through shark-infested waters to some Solomon archipelago to purchase. I know, why don’t you just keep it?
Over the years, we’ve tried all kinds of consumerist-dodging approaches, but none have really hit the right tone. We’ve done Kris Kringle with an upper price limit of $20 (which pretty much gets you a Led Zeppelin CD from the discount bin). We went through a giving-a-goat-to-a-third-world-village phase. We spent lunch wondering whether said village ever got said goat, which was a bit of a cracker fizzler. One year we all got a boxing bag from Mum and Dad. Not each. One to share between six. The next year it was one-sixth of a ping-pong table. The idea was to generate less “stuff”, a commons approach. Which would have been sound if we weren’t all adults living in different states.
So what’s the nourishing, satisfying, happy way to navigate one’s way through this? The thing is we humans actually do like giving. A bunch of studies show that one of the most effective way to get a happiness hit is to give away your money,