I pitched an article to the Daily Mail about having a Christmas with less, and trying to swim against the stream of mass consumerism and frenzied spending that seems to engulf us all at this time of year.
To my surprise, they were interested, so I wrote this piece here, which went live on their website yesterday.
And then it all went a bit bonkers, and I didn’t even dare to read the comments.
Hubby read them for me, and although there were some supportive ones, there were also the ones predictably accusing us of being mean, and tight-fisted, and worrying on our behalf that our kids were going to end up being bullied.
I usually try not to be inflammatory, and will shy away from confrontation and controversy, but I really do feel like this is a conversation we should all be having.
I think we all recognise on some level that Christmas is getting out of hand. Or at least that Christmas presents are getting out of hand.
The planet simply cannot sustain our current levels of consumption, even at ‘normal’ times of year. And all this stuff doesn’t actually make us any happier.
So if we all recognise that it’s an issue, maybe we just don’t know what to do about it, or where to start. Or maybe we worry about how to do something about it without ending up feeling like Scrooge, and worrying that our kids will feel deprived.
So is a Buy Nothing Christmas the answer?
In all honesty, probably not.
It’s totally achievable (I wrote a piece for the Mirror a couple of weeks ago with ideas on how to do it), but possibly not all that desirable for most people.
But it is the polar opposite of what Christmas seems to have become, and starts a conversation about the possibility of ‘another way’.
I love Christmas. Especially with my kids at the ages that they are (7 and 4). It’s a really magical time of year for them, and to see it through their eyes makes the magic come alive again for us too.
I want my kids to remember their Christmas’s fondly. I want them to remember the magic, and the joy.
I wrote last week about childhood memories of LOTS of presents, and how this clashes with the values I have now as a grown up and as a parent. I ‘confessed’ there is still a part of me, that I try very hard to ignore, that still equates Christmas with huge piles of presents and over-flowing stockings. But actually when I think back to childhood Christmas’s I struggle to remember what I was given from one year to the next. And the other things I remember about Christmas are the more important ones-like the times we spent playing cards round the kitchen table, and the memorable occasion when my Nan shook her dice in her G&T instead of in the dice shaker.
The point I am trying to make by writing and talking about a Buy Nothing Christmas, is that Christmas doesn’t have to be all about the presents.
I’m trying to address the elephant in the room, the one hiding behind the Christmas tree wearing a paper hat.
There was a time, so I’m told, when kids were happy with a small stocking, and just one or two presents.
When did it become all about the presents?
At what point in time did Christmas turn into this stressful treadmill of buying and wrapping, and ripping it all open, and then trying to find places to put all the new toys?
People keep saying to me that we have lost the meaning of Christmas.
But for those who aren’t religious, what actually is the meaning of Christmas?
Are we reduced to worshipping at the shrine of consumerism and offering up our credit cards to the big corporations, in exchange for a few short lived moments of excitement and anticipation, before the wrapping paper is ripped off and the gift discarded as we move onto the next one?
Is that really all it has become?
I think there is a middle ground to be found somewhere.
In between the current excesses, and a Buy Nothing pantomime villain.
And I think that that middle ground will be different for everyone.
For us, this year, it will be about homemade bits and bobs, and experience gifts, and creating new traditions for our family.
There will be decorations (the pompom tree is here to stay!); there will be festive food (the cake and pudding are the only two bits of prep I managed before December); there will even be presents.
But there will also be board games, and snuggling up on the sofa with the fire on, and decorating the cake together.
There will be pantomimes, and walks round town to spot all the lit up houses.
And there will be each other. And time. Together.
It won’t be perfect-Christmas never is.
But it will be our imperfect, intentional, Christmas.