Christmas without Consumerism?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Bright lights, ugly sweaters, and festive meals. It also happens to be  the time for long wish lists, long lines in stores, and incessant advertising for various gift ideas in every direction we turn. Everywhere I look this holiday season, I am met with both the excitement about the festive season and the constantly looming expectation to spend hours upon hours and far too much money to capture all the material goods that come with the Christmas season.

This might be because I’m getting older and am a dead broke university student, but the appeal of the ceaseless consumerism of the Christmas holidays is exhausting. While I always appreciate the festive season and the limited-time-only products released during the holidays (Starbucks, I’m looking at you and the Holiday Turkey and Stuffing Sandwich), I feel like making it a priority to get someone the perfect gift and spending hours in stores looking for that one (or more) items is contributing to the idea that Christmas and consumerism go hand in hand.

I was raised in an agnostic home and never really celebrated Christmas for religious reasons, and I will admit that a large part of the holiday for me growing up was giving and receiving presents, aside from the meals my mom would prepare on Christmas day, and the meal my Grandma would prepare on Boxing Day. As I’ve grown older, though, this notion of gift-giving has become less and less expected by my own family, and the increased consumerism around the Christmas holidays has become more and more noticeable.

When did Christmas become about counting gifts and spending so much time on making sure our loved ones have what we believe to be the perfect parcel for them to unwrap? Is it really about the people we are buying gifts for, or is it our own sense of vanity that compels us to go overboard with buying gifts to show off our ability to give the perfect present?

Since coming to university, the things I have appreciated most about the holiday season have not been remotely close to giving gifts, but instead the nostalgic feelings of being close with my friends and family again. Coming back to my hometown to drive around listening to Christmas songs with my best friend, getting to spend some quality time with my family, and eating properly home-cooked meals have been the peak of my Christmases, and have brought me more joy than any parcel under the Christmas tree ever could.

This Christmas, before dropping a good chunk of your OSAP money on gifts, think about the little things about Christmas that make you happy and lean towards those to make the holiday season count.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash