This is something I have been thinking about for a while. At least the last year. And a blog I have been meaning to write for the same amount of time. But it is only now, in my apparent new 3.30am-????!am wake up time, whilst flicking through an old Good Housekeeping magazine my mum left me at Christmas, looking at page upon page (20 pages worth in fact!! And then over the page there is then talk of online shopping “just after midnight to be first in the queue” on “Cyber Monday” also stating “you snooze, you lose!”!!!! 🤦🏽♀️) of their “GH gift guide” that I feel beyond anxious and sick at the sheer amount of rubbish there is in this world that is often forced upon us until we feel like we “need” it and thus succumb to buying.
Really?! What are the chances of not already having salt and pepper shakers?!
Except that really, we probably don’t need much of it at all.
Christmas morning this year, as every year, I felt a little overwhelmed. I do find Christmas and (my own) birthdays overwhelming; part of the great joy of my own anxiety of the stark reminder of time passing all too fast. But I felt more so overwhelmed when I saw the huge pile of Christmas presents under the tree. Yes there was 6 of us at ours for Christmas this year – but fully grown adults, not a single child in sight – as you might have expected given the amount of presents under the tree!
Call me Scrooge if you like. I don’t care. I think it is utterly ridiculous.
For me, Christmas is about/for the children and the magic of it all (no, I’m not religious). Of course I will still continue to buy my godchildren (etc) Christmas and birthday presents – as children unable to buy what they want or need when they want, like adults, that is different! But what I will say is, ever since they were born I’ve often also wondered if buying them something they will soon grow out of is utterly pointless – I’d much rather put money in their savings accounts for when they will inevitably need it as adults starting out in this crazy world… that said, I know it makes them (as with all children!) happy now to receive presents, and that too is important.
So this year, I’m not doing it anymore. I’m not going to fall into the trap of buying presents for everyone and anyone I’ve ever met (ok slight exaggeration!). And in return I don’t want anything. In this 21st century world we are somewhat spoilt in that when we decide we need or want something, we buy it. There’s no such thing as having to wait until Christmas or birthdays, and if we don’t buy it for ourselves… do we really want or need it?!
I find it stressful. In the most grateful of senses. It is stressful receiving presents upon presents of things you don’t really want or need. Trying to find homes for things or feeling the need to have a mass clear out (which I desperately need to do but am far too exhausted to do it!). I find it stressful trying to think of what I could possibly buy for so-and-so, but often even the likes of my own Dad, or brother, etc. I find it stressful when then asked “what can we get James (etc)?” because, I don’t know! And very often he is there saying “nothing! I don’t want anything! I don’t need anything! I want nothing!” Sometimes, even when I do provide an idea it is then ignores – so what was even the point?! Don’t even get me started on the stress involved if something is faulty.
Last year, as every year, James had no idea what to buy his brother (or dad) for Christmas. Being male he typically left it until the last minute, but even so, in a world of practical 24hour delivery, that didn’t really matter. To this day I am fairly sure he hasn’t bought him anything, because he can’t think of anything. He doesn’t know what he might want or need (likely nothing!) and so (as far as I’m aware) he just hasn’t!! His mum only got something because I happened to spot something I thought she would like! Why are we buying presents for people when we don’t even know what to buy them? Or what they already have?! My dad at one point went and ordered an amazon Alexa for James which was returned because we already have one. One that we don’t use because we don’t have a smart home or much to connect it to or have even really had the time to figure out how best to use it, and in fact it is currently turned off because she kept responding whenever the tv advert came on!!
I totally appreciate there are occasions when you see something you know a loved one will love – and that’s fine, and something I too will continue to do, (although anxious that they may already have, however I guess one must assume you would already know if they had it because if it’s something they really love they are likely to have spoken about it…?!) but I am done with gifting for the sake of gifting. Buying for the sake of buying, and all the stress and waste that comes with it.
I also find it stressful that there are often hundreds and hundreds of options of the same thing. Trying to figure out which one is actually the best/cheapest/value for money or actually does what you need is something I often find confusing and stressful – even in trying to buy a blender for example. There often seems to be so many “new” (& old) businesses doing the same thing that we are flooded with multiple products making what should be simple decisions near impossible. Sometimes I feel like a new brand appears on a daily basis doing something that already exists tenfold..
For me, I much prefer to spend time with loved ones, doing, rather than having. If I see something I need or want (because yes I still fall into that consumer trap of desire for things I probably don’t need!), I’ll likely buy it! One of my best memories of 2017 is the Bombay Sapphire gin experience with my husband, parents, brother and his girlfriend. We “did” and spent time together and actually had genuine fun without being, or feeling forced. It was something different.
and looks like “doing” is better for our future mental health too!
I know “doing” often means spending money on this or that, but I would much rather spend time experiencing than not being able to see my friends, have fun and create memories because they are skint from spending money on gifts no one really wants or needs! I think we all know I would much rather travel and holiday – see the world – than have another thing.
(I had an “in sum” friendly end to this but a WordPress bug in the app has just deleted it 😡)Xxx
Update!! Have moved onto the next month (December) issue of Good Housekeeping mag where they have yet another 10+ page “ultimate gift guide” – plus separate pages for children’s toys! I used to love this magazine as it focused less on fake “celebrities” and garbage and more on real, interesting and factual, proper journalism!!