By Asja Baško
Let’s be honest, during the last few years Christmas has turned into one huge presents frenzy. Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas will tell you that they love Christmas presents. In the UK, France, Germany, Canada and the US, people spent around €826 billion on Christmas sales in 2017, according to Centre for Retail Research. True, this number includes food, holidays, and decorations, but it’s only for five countries. How much is the rest of the world spending on Christmas? How many presents are you preparing this year?
Do you already know what are you going to buy? In printed and online media and even on Instagram, people are going crazy publishing loads of different Christmas gifts lists. Just choose your favourite one: best gifts of 2018, unique or unusual gifts of 2018, sustainable gifts of 2018, best tech or beauty gifts of 2018, must have gifts for loved ones, for her or him, tweens, toddlers, babies, grannies and grandpas, friends, pets, you name it.
There are even lists of the best presents for coworkers. Among all these lists, you come across posts and articles about how the best time to buy this year’s Christmas presents, in order to get the best bargains, was after Christmas last year.
So, after you decide what you want to get, comes the shopping phase: shop online and with a few clicks, voila! Amazon, with the help of your few clicks and access to your wallet, will wrap and deliver your chosen presents to whomever you want, without you leaving your computer or phone. Or, the good old way: going to the shops, browsing and choosing, standing in queues, looking for deals, getting presents wrapped, carrying all those beautifully wrapped presents home, and thinking about how you will deliver them all to their recipients. Then comes delivery, present opening, posting pictures of presents on social media, and we can move on: Christmas is over.
This is a very bleak description of the magic of Christmas, but after you find online videos of Benedict Cumberbatch explaining how to react to bad Christmas presents, you realize it’s all just become too much.
Nowadays we face huge environmental problems, climate change, global warming, species extinction, an overload of plastic in the ocean and in our food, and beaches and forests drowning in garbage. Helping the environment isn’t just about clicking “likes” and sharing articles about the latest daunting reports of environmental problems, or arguing with people who refuse to acknowledge the above-mentioned problems.
I believe Christmas is one of the best times to actually make a change! No matter how you approach Christmas, or what your religion, background or nationality is, everyone knows Christmas! It’s a special time of the year that we love to imagine is perfect, with white snow, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, lights, presents, tables full of delicious food, and Christmas songs playing all around.
But the thing is, it looks more and more like a perfect cut out picture that ignores what’s happening around it. A good comparison is an issue I read about recently. The article was about how nature film producers find it harder and harder to make those beautiful wildlife videos (like in David Attenborough’s movies). They said that with every year they spend more time trying to get the right angle or cut their videos to avoid including images of the destruction of animal habitats, piles of garbage, or polluted rivers.
The question is what to do? Firstly and most importantly, believe me, there won’t be an international treaty on how to reduce the number of Christmas presents in order to help the environment. It’s up to you and me to preserve the Christmas magic and to decide what kind of impact we want to make on the environment.
Actually, you do it every single day by voting with your wallet on which company will succeed and which will not. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
I know that the topic of Christmas presents is a huge ”no go” area, but if you start asking around, you will find that people have found loads of wonderful alternatives to those huge mountains of beautiful, colorfully wrapped presents under Christmas tree:
- make a Christmas presents wishlist and share it with all interested parties,
- buy tickets to a concert, sports game or cultural event,
- book a dance, sport, art or cooking class,
- go on a small family holiday together and spend two days without your phones, chatting, eating and playing board games,
- Ask for money to pay the fees for activity classes,
- donate money to various charities,
- buy gifts locally made by real people instead of supporting huge companies that make their workers work overtime and pay such a low salary that they can’t afford Christmas presents for own their families.
There are loads of ways to create memories with people instead of getting actual physical presents. Think about what your best memory of Christmas, that you want to share with others, is.
Don’t judge people who say that they don’t want presents. Listen to them and ask what they want. Be honest and realize that maybe someone doesn’t need Christmas presents at all. You might argue that it will take all the magic away, and anyway, what about Santa? But very soon instead of Santa, we will have delivery guys delivering all the presents, as Santa won’t have a North Pole to live at if we keep living like we do now.
At the end of the day, the best and most valuable gift is your time – being with you, talking with you, having your attention, sharing a joke or a funny story or sobbing on your shoulder. Happy Christmas!