Friday, November 27, 2015

It’s that time of year again: Staying sane in the mad, mad world of Christmas.



Someone said to me yesterday (when I asked how they were), that they were “so busy … with Christmas and everything” and they “feel really stressed”. 

Insane.

Here we are, at the start of the New Zealand summer – a time for cruising into a holiday break; relaxing with friends and family; topping up our vitamin D3 in the abundant sunshine … and people feel “stressed” because Christmas is only X amount of weeks away and “oh I have so much to do!!”

WHY?!

It is utter insanity that the country begins to run around in a state of panic leading up to a day where they more often than not, gorge themselves on copious amounts of food and drink that (more often than not) they do not need or cannot even afford anyway.  It blows my mind!
I feel sorry for my kids in some ways because they have both a mother and a father, neither of who are particularly “Christmassy” and they have grown up aware that this goes against the mainstream programme of spend, spend, spend because you have to!  They are now however (as young adults), well aware of the ridiculousness that Christmas is. 
Do not get me wrong – I enjoy and respect the idea of families spending time together (particularly if it is a rarity – which if your kids are older and spread out geographically, it often is), in a genuine display of family altruism.  
What I really do not dig through, is families (such as one of my neighbours), who yell at, scream at and verbally abuse their young kids all year, and then as Christmas begins to approach, they use Christmas to manipulate them even further; threaten them with cancellation of it, no Christmas presents and other things that a young child who has been programmed into believing he/she gets gifts for “being good” and would hold as a highlight to his/her year (as do most kids perhaps!).
Christmas does not need to be a large outlay of money on excessive food and gifts that serve no real purpose.  Have a picnic! Go to the beach! Leave your cell phones at home …TALK to each other! Yes … talking is still a valid form of communication apparently!  Cap spending on gifts to $10 each – MAKE gifts/food items for each other! Is not the whole point of Christmas actually to spend time with family and people important to us?
We live in a society shaped and moulded by mainstream media.  Christmas is the most intensely marketed time of the year - period.  People spend more than they can afford at this time; finance companies offer more “deals” at this time of the year to encourage spending which leaves the spender burdened with debt – often until the following Christmas, making payments, and then the cycle can start again compounding not only the interest but the issue.  
The big companies get in on the bandwagon too! Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman, The Warehouse … they are ALL guilty of roping people in to burden them with debt.  Advertising goes on steroids … “no payments till 2018 then 36 months to pay” Insanity! It lulls people into a false sense of security … then BAM! They have to start repaying all the money they owe to these various places and it all starts coming in at the same time.  “Buy new furniture, appliances, devices … buy, buy, buy, NOW!”
WHY? Because it’s Christmas (of course) – treat yourself!
We are disconnected from ourselves and so we spend, which only continues the disconnect. Madness. 
And it’s encouraged!  It is a symptom of our society – the programming – that we need to please people by spending lots of money on them; that we are “good” if we buy other people gifts, and we are “good” if we receive them.  Drop the expectation and tap into what is real. 
Christmas is a deception anyway – it should be an attitude – not a time of the year. 

Stop the insanity!
  • ·      Limit Christmas spending – there is NO need to produce elaborate meals or feed people you cannot afford to feed, or buy gifts you cannot afford to buy
  • ·      Reduce the pressure on family by capping spending on gifts for each other
  • ·      Have a picnic or a pot luck meal together
  • ·      Go to the beach – its summer!
  • ·      Spend time not money on your kids
  • ·      Spend time not money with significant people in your lives
  • ·      If you do wish to spend larger amounts of money on someone, think before you do – is it going to last? Are the materials recyclable? Could it be passed on to someone else when the novelty wears off?  Do they really need it?
  • ·      Do not buy into the marketing machine that IS Christmas
  • ·      Hand-make gifts
  • ·      Keep cell phones turned OFF on Christmas day – make it a family rule
  • ·      Talk to each other – catch up without electronic devices or social media
  • ·      Go for a walk somewhere beautiful – there are glorious walkways in New Zealand that will be all but empty on Christmas day!
  • ·      Share the job of food preparation

The list is limitless.  The point comes back to the person who exclaimed how stressed and busy they were because it’s nearly Christmas – you do not have to buy into the insanity.  It’s programming.  Break out of the programme and breathe.

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