If you ever started thinking about your Christmas gifts as early as November and then felt guilty about it, this is for you.
All those anti-consumerism arguments have got us believing that gift-giving on Christmas Day = Evil. If you buy gifts for your loved ones on Christmas day, then you are mindlessly contributing to a greedy consumer cycle within which consumption patterns are dictated by clever marketing tactics. But here’s the thing: I want to buy gifts for my loved ones for Christmas, not because that John Lewis ad was so good, but because I want to show them that I care.
In today’s capitalist society the strongest currencies are money and time.
These are the currencies we use to measure value, self-worth, and even affection. For better or for worse, the way we expend these indicates where our priorities lie and what we care about the most. If a society were to exist where balloons were the dominant currency, I would expend my precious balloons to show my loved ones that I care. Because value is relative to availability. I could give hugs to show that I care but, the infinite number of hugs at my disposal would render my gift less precious, less valuable.
I do not deny that I could show my loved ones affection any time of the year.
I do not need to wait for all the Christmas ads to appear to remind me that this is the season for caring. But, it is an occasion to do so. Chances are you don’t show your loved ones you love them every day. You don’t surprise them with small acts of caring. You don’t let them know that you think about them and about what would make them happy. So why not use the joyous occasion that is Christmas to do so? Do we have to boycott the holiday just because we don’t want to seem like we are giving in to society’s “dictation” of when we should buy gifts?
And if you are worried about the sustainability of the practice, nobody said that your gifts have to be the newest gaming console or the trendiest novelty gift to be played with once and then thrown away.
You can adopt an exotic animal for your animal-lover friend. For your friend who loves cooking you can get a set that lets them grow their own herbs. And for your adventure-loving friend you can get theme park tickets. There’s a difference between buying something just for the sake of buying a gift and taking the time to really think about what would make your loved ones happy. Because, at the end of the day, the thought really does count. And receiving gratitude for your thoughtfulness is often so much more rewarding than receiving gifts.
The truth is that, whether anti-consumerists want to admit it or not, the practice of gift-giving brings joy.
Sometimes it’s because of the gift, sometimes it is simply because of the act of giving itself. So, it all comes down to a choice: boycott a holiday because it has been branded as “consumerist”, or partake in a lovely tradition that will bring joy to you and your loved ones? Personally, I’d go for the joy.