Christmas has become excessive, stressed and tiresome...let's get back to the true spirit

What does Christmas mean to us? A time of excessive eating, over-spending, bulging dustbins and drained bank accounts? Or do we feel unconditional love and hope, thankful for our many blessings and grateful to be spending time with our loved ones? Do we spare a thought for those who do not have money to buy gifts for their children this year, those who lost a friend or family member, those who lost their homes?

Many of us appear to feel the pressure to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas with expensive gifts and extensive food tables, the right outfits and lots of ‘selfies’ to prove that we have succeeded in outdoing the neighbours.

In Australia, our impact on the environment during Christmas time is sadly appalling. Consider the following facts:

  • Australians will spend approximately $11 billion on Christmas gifts this year
  • We will spend an estimated $400 million on some 10 million unwanted gifts at Christmas that will likely be thrown away
  • We will throw away more than 5million tonnes of food and more than 150,000 km of gift wrapping
  • We will spend more than 1 billion on decorations alone that mostly end up in rubbish bins

At a time when drought is ravaging our farmers’ land, fires are ravaging our bushland and close to 50,000 Australians sleep on the street, it all seems a bit…sickening.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love giving gifts to loved ones and celebrating another year that has been, but it is possible to feel the true spirit of Christmas without succumbing to the stress, decadence and opulence that has become Christmas.

A good place to start is to consider thrifting for gifts. It is actually a lot of fun and often a lot more appreciated for the effort and thoughtfulness that is required putting together that perfect, low cost and personal gift. A recent survey of Australian people has shown that about a quarter of us would rather receive "socially conscious or eco-friendly" Christmas presents this year. ‘Thrift to gift’ is fast becoming an acceptable way of exchanging gifts. There are already so many amazing stuff on this planet to gift each other, do we really have to keep making more stuff when much of it ends in landfill?

Beautiful jewellery, silverware, art, books, toys, clothing and many, many more treasurers are just waiting to be discovered in charity shops and markets. Combining some of these items with a bit of scrubbing and polishing, a good bottle of wine or a reading light, baked goods, home-made lollies, etc. and presented in a basket, bowl or box decorated with thrifted or natural materials, will say a lot about you.

In terms of food waste, we simply need to stop buying and cooking tons and tons of ham, turkey, Christmas pudding and pavlovas when our fridges are already bursting at the seams. For heavens sake, how much ham, turkey, potato salad and prawns can our family of four devour before New Year?

So how about this year, we save money and try to cut down on our spending and ask others to do the same? Buy one present instead of three for each child, give at least one thrift gift instead of a new one, cut down on those plastic decorations and Christmas crackers. Buy only food for one Christmas meal and above all, spend less time in shopping malls and more on the deck with our family.

Merry Christmas all!

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