‘TIS THE SEASON to be Jolly… But how often do we really feel that way during the festive season?
I would feel more jolly if the whole thing was a little less excessive!
Most jollies are felt when getting excessively merry at a social gathering, or that special feeling of unbuttoning your pants after over-indulging on a ridiculous amount of food at the Christmas table.
These states would better be described as drunk and bloated, but for some reason, “jolly” seems to make these behaviours acceptable at this time of year.
I propose we rename the day to what it has actually become… Excess-mas.
Let’s be honest, the number of people who celebrate this day based on the birth of Christ is declining.
What has the day become about instead?
Well, excessive consumption basically.
If you’re a kid, it’s about Father Christmas, and what presents you’ll get from whom.
If you’re not a kid (or you’ve been naughty), then it’s about the gifts you must get for others, the maximum volume of food and drink you can possibly buy, prepare and consume, and how you should participate in all the other traditional rituals… the symbols of which have mostly become quite materialistic.
Take for example the act of buying a Christmas tree.
There is a tradition of cutting a baby pine tree down, thus killing it, so we can put it inside for a couple of weeks during December.
Some buy a plastic one to avoid the mess or allergies, and hopefully reuse it year-on-year.
And then we decorate it, usually with disposable plastic ticky-tack bling, which we often want to replace the following year.
Decorating the house is something that can quite a joy, but so many people seem to go right over the top, running excessive strings of lights and/or inflatable Santa’s and so on.
For those hosting their family on the big day, so much fuss goes into the house being just so; the table must be a work of art fit for Mr and Mrs Claus themselves to sit at, there cannot be a blade of grass out of place, and the massive amounts of food being prepared has to be exactly perfect.
So much stress.. excessive.
Then there is the buying of gifts, which seems to be something often done through obligation, rather than love.
I remember when the art of gift-giving was valued, and people took time to think about what their friends and family members might enjoy or be able to use.
It’s now the trend to “just get them a voucher, so they can choose”, thus avoiding having to make a decision, or risk making the wrong one.
Kris Kringle must surely have been conceived by either a Communist or an accountant, overwhelmed by the excessive number of gifts they felt obliged to buy.
This logically constructed system efficiently simplifies the task of gift giving, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sharing love and respecting personal connections.
I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas!
I have a few ideas to help us be a little lighter on the planet this festive season, and to get back in touch with the festive spirit.
I’m certainly not aiming to take the fun away, rather lets contemplate what might happen if we started doing things a little bit differently.
How about if we all used living Christmas trees in pots (preferably natives), and planted them after we’re done.
Result = Carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat creation
Consider if we gifted only second-hand or hand-created items, or at least had a “no plastic packaging” rule amongst the family.
Result = Recycling, creativity, cost-savings, reduced plastic waste
Imagine we took the time to create personalised cards (perhaps with our own art or a meaningful photo) with some thoughtfully chosen words, to empower all of our loved ones for the coming year.
Result = Sharing love and gratitude, creative self-expression
For the person that has it all, or really is “impossible to buy for” could we buy something for a less privileged person on the other side of the world instead?
I’m imagining gifting my mother with a card, showing that her gift is going to provide an education to a girl in Africa, or similar.
Result = the joy of changing someone’s life is long-lasting, deeply fulfilling, and humbling
How about creating beautiful unique looking gifts, wrapped in recycled paper or newspaper, with glamorous and/or functional ribbon / rope / dried flowers etc to decorate them.
Result = all the fun of unwrapping, with less waste
Could you get by with less dead animals on your table?
Perhaps one type of meat is enough.
Result = Cost saving, better digestion, less animal suffering
Much of what is special about Christmas is tied to traditions.
It’s important to respect and honour traditions that bring us together, and it’s also healthy to move on from bad habits which no longer serve us.
We don’t want to end up looking like the bulging hairy man in red, carrying around a heavy bag of “stuff”!
So Come All ye Faithful, lets enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas in moderation, and bring Joy to the World, with a Silent Night or two Away in a Manger, to keep calm and preserve peace on Earth.