All I Want for Christmas

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

As December gets into full swing, one of the joyous seasonal activities that must be undertaken is the ritual filling of my Amazon wishlist with a bunch of crap I don’t need. This is all to help those stubborn relatives who can’t bring themselves to believe I’m telling the truth when I say “I don’t want anything”.

What I really want for Christmas is a tree covered in lights, a table to sit my friends and family around, a dinner to cook for as many as possible, a bottle of wine to drink and stories to tell.

But these days, it rarely seems like that’s an option. Every year we are deluged by adverts exhorting us to buy more and more needless stuff in the vague hope that it will make our families happy and our lives complete.

Spoilers: it doesn’t.

Consumerism has given us little but a yearly orgy of spending, credit card bills and vague disappointment; it’s given us nothing but the idea that happiness is inextricably linked to wealth. It’s benefitted not the middle classes and certainly not the poor — it’s benefitted bankers, politicians, advertising executives; the very people we love to hate but keep shovelling money at year after year.

So please, buy less stuff. Stop stressing about finding the perfect gift. Stop binge-buying in sales, stop watching 24-hour telesales channels, stop racking up debt buying things nobody really needs.

Sit down and eat Christmas dinner with your family.

If you must throw money at something, buy dinner for someone who can’t afford it. Give someone less fortunate a place to spend Christmas with their friends.

“Consumer culture” is bullshit, your friends and family deserve better.


HolyHaddock 16 December 2014

I fear the middle may have gotten somewhat excluded here.

On the one hand, my happiest memory so far this Christmas is of a pub full of beered up Pratchett fans singing White Wine in the Sun, while the poor Pratchett-fan-in-chief tried to read answers to a quiz. And that's very nearly tied by a bunch of other joyful evenings in good company.

On the other hand, several weeks ago I completed a list of purchases for people I care about, that I anticipate them finding enjoyable and/or interesting.

And I'm not sorry about that.

The intention wasn't to make people feel sorry for buying things — just to make the point that being happy and making others happy is the important thing, and that doesn't necessarily involve spending any money.

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