December is here, and with it, a whole bunch of commercial advertising and social pressure telling us not to let go the year without “expressing” our good wishes to close people through a brand-new gift. This has not always been like that, however, as product-based economies grew, we have all been trapped in this consumist spiral that pushes us to buy and buy… with all kind of opinions and guilt feelings if we don’t do it.
What is completely truth is that our planet is starting to show the consequences of these lifestyle of ours, and talking also of our private matters, also our pockets. A few weeks ago, during the Black Friday weekend, we shared a link which questions this and proposes the “White Friday”, I share again the link to use this reflection for the Christmas season:
The tradition of giving gifts comes back in time before the Christmas as we know it. But it was related to the ending of the sowing cycles, and in some cultures was a good omen to have some “new goods” for the house for starting the new cycle. But this “new goods” were almost always handcrafts or home-made products like blankets, seeds, furniture or a good banquet to share with the others and that were part of a rite.
In the Christian era and not so long ago (related to industrialization) it was said that it was baby Jesus that brought gifts to children, a didactic activity that symbolised to be able to recieve god’s blessings. But again, in the beginning the gifts were part of the year crop, fruits, sweets, some clothing made by the mother, some little toy made by the father. The rest of the holidays focused in having the family gathered sharing the occasion.
Nowadays, our society focuses their effort in buying gifts for all the family members. Stores usually prepare for the season with months in advance, offering sales for products out of season, or risky credit plans to get a debt for the rest of the next year, to buy products you don’t need with money you don’t have.
Result: Families with huge debts in the beginning of the year. Gifts that are not always welcome. Holidays in which people is more concerned about giving and receiveing that sharing. Environmentally, overproduced goods that in most of the cases go straight to the trash bin, like all sorts of packaging or even the “unpleasant” gifts.
We propose here to redesign the season experience in a sustainable way, and the first step is to avoid giving stuff whenever possible or the emotional creativity to give away intelligent stuff that won’t cost a lot and won’t overproduce.
The base for this is to reconsider our own value as persons: Please stop thinking that people will have a bad opinion if we don’t give them something, in the end, relationships must be strenghtened all year round, and not a by a gift one day of the year. Let’s explain to the others our interest on consuming less and being more affective. Especially, let’s be rightfull and stop expecting to recieve gifts as well, we can ask for that, to have only good wishes.
When it comes to our closer persons, we can do what I call “Affective gifts”: Things made by ourselves or that have a special value, and to give them heartedly to the ones we care about.
Here I give some examples:
1. Letters or cards made by ourselves: In the Internet era, it is just touching to recieve a letter in which another person invested time, a good handstyle and even some art. TO make them use your creativity, recycled materials, vegetal colors, stamps, trimmings or whatever you want. You’ll be original and also very individual…
2. Recycling projects: In this blog we have shared some ideas to reuse textiles, for example. But there are a lot of ideas to make small useful things, starting from a recicled material. Jewelery, photo frames, notebooks, restyled furniture, don’t limit yourself, look in your closet and transform something in something else.
3. Affectionate gifts: Give away something that is yours and that is special for you. I still remember one of my uncles, who, for space reasons, had to get rid of his mug collection. He chose those mugs that thought that could have a new good owner that appreciated them, and gave them to special persons. We who got one of those, we knew how special they were for what they meant for him. Do the same with your belongings, and feel the pleasure of letting go something your appreciate. Energetically, it has a great value to do it so. I feel so proud each time I see my niece wearing my favorite childhood sunglasses, they couldn’t have a better owner now.
4. Special occasion voucher: The most valuable resource we have to give is our time. So you can make some vouchers for cinema, a nice dinner, a cool trip. If you are to spend money, do it in something you’ll enjoy and won’t loose, joyful experiences.
5. IF you absolutely MUST buy something new, don’t be afraid of asking the options: At least you’ll know the gift will be used, that the person will like it. Get creative with wrappings, use a textile bag that can be reused instead of paper, or if you can, don’t use any wrapping at all. Remember that in the end, those fancy wrappings will turn in trash in no time.
To all our readers here at Ecodiseño Existencial, we wish that you have a very happy end of year, that we keep promoting an affective and sustainable lifestyle. Even if we swim against the current for a while, in the future our children and our planet will be thankful for it.