I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with conversations that start something like this: “So when do you plan on finishing your Christmas shopping?”, “What are you buying?”, “Have you got a shopping list?” and so on and so forth…
With Christmas being just around the corner, these conversations are becoming commonplace.
Why is it that Christmas is associated with shopping so much? And not only Christmas…Why is it that, as a society, we are so obsessed with buying?
The other day, as I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed, I came across an article which was about a kangaroo that had ‘visited’ the newly built shopping centre carpark at my neighborhood. I must admit, at first, I thought about how great of a story that was to tell to my friends and relatives from overseas who would always wonder if kangaroos were freely roaming Australian streets. Upon reflection, though, it occurred to me that it was not the kangaroo that visited our territory.
…It is us, human beings, who get rid of the natural habitat for the sake of building places that hold almost nothing more than objects of desire.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I am not against gifts. Gifts are one of the ways we can express our gratitude, appreciation, and care for our loved ones. Selecting gifts for our friends is about mentally spending time with them, imagining their happiness upon receiving that gift and being sure they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
However, there is a fundamental difference between gifts and ‘things’.
I am sure we all have at some point received ‘things’ that we didn’t know what to do with. I, for one, remember once receiving a ‘thing’ that had someone else’s name in it… Please don’t be that person…I promise it is awkward for both parties involved…
I have noticed that Christmas is one such time where we all end up accumulating a lot of ‘things’.
The bigger problem, though, is that we get ‘things’ not only for others but, more often than not: for ourselves. We constantly desire for and spend on objects that we do not necessarily need and will possibly end up not using anyway.
The first time that this thought hit me was when I was volunteering at a second-hand shop-Lifeline. We would receive boxes upon boxes of donated ‘things’. It was certainly beautiful to see just how people were willing to donate and help. At the same time, though, I have noticed that many of these ‘things’ had tags and were new.
I think we are all guilty of that to some extent. The truth is we often shop to satisfy our desires to feel fulfilled and happy. Nothing more.
By writing about this issue of consumerism, I am hoping to encourage you the mindful spending and thoughtful gift selection. I guess if we all try to modify our behaviors and err towards being less greedy, we can live up to the standards of our past generations, who would fix broken things…who would not buy new things because of their ‘new features’.
And perhaps if we modify our behaviors just a little bit, and collectively reduce this spending frenzy, we could all enjoy Christmas with our families and friends rather than having to work long Christmas hours to make the ‘biggest sales of the year’…
Take care and let’s constantly remind ourselves that fulfillment comes from experiences and quality time spent with our families, friends, and loved ones.