On a quest for a simplified, uncluttered holiday season? You've undoubtedly figured out that it would help to minimize the decorating, share the holiday meal preparation, and make sure that you don't over commit yourself to social events. But what about gifts?
If you're determined that your holiday gifts won't be a hassle to buy or create clutter for you, your family or friends, check out Jeri Dansky's terrific Clutter-Free Gift Guide. You won't find a better assortment of ideas anywhere for gifts for everyone on your list. You'll also find an excerpt from an excellent article by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll about the "malaise of materialism."
Of course, there's also regifting, an option I wrote about in my previous post.
If you're really committed to cutting back on your gift-giving, you might want to investigate "Buy Nothing Christmas" and help spread the idea from Canada to the U.S.A. Here's the background story of this movement (and, yes, the idea also works for those who celebrate a secular rather than a religious holiday):
"Buy Nothing Christmas is a national initiative started by Canadian Mennonites who offer a prophetic 'no' to the patterns of over-consumption of middle-class North Americans. They are inviting Christians (and others) all over Canada to join a movement to de-commercialize Christmas and re-design a Christian lifestyle that is richer in meaning, smaller in impact upon the earth, and greater in giving to people less-privileged."
But what if you buy a few gifts -- can you still participate?
"Definitely. We are all going to have to buy some things. When you do buy things, we encourage you to remember principles like buying locally, fairly-traded, environmentally friendly packaging, recycling or re-using, buying things that last, and so on. The main aim of this campaign is not to save money (although that can be a side benefit), it's not to slow down the pace of Christmas (although that can be a side benefit), it is to challenge our over-consumptive lifestyle and how it affects global disparities and the earth. So, even though you might buy a few things at Christmas, it's important to think in these global economic terms."
If you'd like a few chuckles about how totally insane consumerism has become at this time of year, check out Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping. The "Reverend" (a character created by NY performance artist Bill Talen) has been around since 1996, but now he has a gospel choir and a group of "true believers" assisting him in his mission:
"The Church of Stop Shopping is a project of The Immediate Life, a New York based arts organization using theater, humor, and grassroots organizing to advance individuals and communities towards a more equitable future - starting today. We partner with citizens, grassroots organizations and progressive visionaries to produce dynamic, informed public campaigns that enact our core values - participatory democracy, ecological sustainability, and the preservation of vibrant communities and local economies."
Academy Award nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) produced a docu-comedy feature for The Church of Stop Shopping entitled, What Would Jesus Buy? The promotional tag is, "The movie Santa doesn't want you to see!"
I don't agree with that. I think Santa is probably tired of having to act jolly while he lugs around tons of excess stuff that we don't need or even want. He deserves a break -- he's one of those rare public figures in big business who isn't being indicted or asking for a bailout.
© 2008 Cynthia Friedlob