Holiday Consumerism and the Minimalist

Holiday consumerism and the minimalist, the two just don’t belong and though I may not be a minimalist in comparison to those whom are true minimalist with a 12 item wardrobe and am accounted inventory of every item in the home, I am an intentionalist. I seek intentionality when making purchases. I think twice sometimes three and four times before making a purchase. The root of my behavior naturally stems from being the sole provider for my children as I am a single mother but also because of my experiences as a social worker in seeing how poor administration and mismanagement of income has left a multitude of individuals overwhelmed and struggling with meets ends meets while simultaneously dealing with debt collectors. It’s not a life I want to live. Arguably I’d have to presume it’s not a life anyone wants to live but because of life circumstances, because of poor money habits, because of greed, desire and materialism we find ourselves drowning in debt and suffocated by items and objects that we don’t truly need. Things that we thought but probably didn’t even truly want. It’s the reality of the world we live in today and quite frankly it is alarming and concerning the rates at which we are consuming, using and disposing of items.

A fear of mine summed up in a quote “we don’t inherit the Earth. We borrow it. We borrow it from our children. We borrow it from the natural resources that our Earth produces for us. We borrow it from their future and their children’s future and from generations to come. We borrow it from a source that we are very well depleting. A source that we are not restoring, that we are not renewing, that we are not reconstructing.

The obscene and ludicrous amount of material goods that are purchased during the holidays is quite incomprehensible. As someone who seeks to live a simple life of intentionality and moderate minimalism the stores during the holidays cause a sense of internal chaos and anxiety and overwhelmth within me. Every store whether the local CVS, TJ Maxx, Target or Macy’s, Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor inundated with an abundance of goods. Goods that have been mass produced in the thousands if not millions across the nation in identical brick and mortar and online stores. So many of us with our senses oblivious to the damage that we are causing our planet and the danger we are creating for future generations.

I notice it more and more year after year. Perhaps it’s the maturity in me, perhaps it’s the wisdom and discernment God is bringing me. I can’t allow myself nor my family to follow the mainstream and purchase goods in abundance for the mere purpose of purchasing to gift. Being a full time employee and sole provider of a family my purchases have to have basis in which they are made in good faith. Therefore when I started being more in tune with my emotions in regards to how the stores and crowds and abundance of goods was causing me chaos I realized that our holiday spending and shopping would have to be as intentional as I could possibly make it.

Why spend hard earned cash on frivolous things that would only be donated later on, that perhaps the individual would not like nor appreciate. Why go through the agony of trying to figure out the perfect gift for each individual I was spending on. This year I took in intentionality as best as I could purchasing goods that would provide entertainment such as family games or hobbies or dinner/brunch out and educational toys and clothing. For my closest friends gifts consisted more of making dishes and getting together to give the gift of time. My supervisor’s gift consisted of a personalized Christmas mug with a small homemade bottle of Coquito (Puerto Rican eggnog with rum). Yankee swap gifts consisted of items that cost five or less dollars but meant to pamper the body. I asked family and friends that would be purchasing for my children to rather give them gifts of experiences such as movie tickets, skating tickets and trampoline park entrance passes in addition to clothing. Spending money in this way makes the absolute most sense to my pockets as well as those who are giving to me or my children as it gifts time to be spent together and reduces the carbon footprint on our environment and the vicious cycle of spending money to then regret it, not being able to return it and having to recycle or dispose it.

Giving the gift of dishes and drinks again allows for the gift of gathering and time and partaking in the occasion rather than hovering an item. I believe a gift card to a luxurious restaurant which gives the receiver the experience of a night or brunch out in a lavish environment is far better received than a new silk scarf (unless it’s an extremely luxurious silk scarf). A bottle of wine I believe is better received than another pair of gloves or another pair of slippers. Do I believe that there’s a place for new gloves or slippers or scarfs? Surely as things are worn to their maximum they have to be replaced and without a doubt things we wear often are the first to be most loved. However I do believe that you must truly know the distinct taste of the individual for whom you are purchasing for and that is where many of us go wrong. We sometimes purchase something we would like or think someone may like but not truly what they would like and in cases of individuals with whom we are no longer close to we purchase just about anything to suffice a purchase.

I do believe that clothing and shoes make the best gifts for kids in addition to perhaps a toy or two. Clothing and shoes are basic necessities and as long as they are neutral and simple can be enjoyed by all regardless of style. So sure there are material things that we always need, things we can always use but this year if you haven’t completed your shopping or perhaps the next year or the following after I ask that you become more intentional in your holiday purchase, that you give the gift of time, love and enjoyment and memory and not a trinket for the sake of giving a trinket. I ask that you consider the item, the need, the want and lastly I ask you to mediate on the quote ” We don’t inherit the earth. We borrow it from our children”, and consider your purchase and the environmental implications not just today but for generations to come. We may not be able to make a huge change individually but collectively we can be wiser, smarter and attentive. We can say “no” to an innate abundance and materialistic greed and say yes to the joy and peace that come along when we approach our holidays with a pure heart and the essence of simplicity.

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