Thursday, October 25, 2012

Consumerism Makes Holidays Ring Hollow

I very rarely shop retail.  This photo was taken the 15th of October--as my boyfriend and I were picking up supplies for our DIY bathroom renovation.  I came into the store and rounded the corner of the aisle we wanted to see this scene.  It made me feel a little sick inside.

The weather outside was warm--unseasonably so--and I'm barely thinking about Halloween.  Now this?!  I should not be surprised or shocked by it.  Indeed, I am not.  This is not a new phenomenon, and I used to work in retail;  however, each year it makes me feel more and more ill.  Really.  Ill.

I am a religious person, though not obsessed with my faith.  For me, my Holidays are sacred time.  Gift giving is part of my traditions around the Holidays;  however, the way that our capitalist society handles gift giving has completely perverted and devalued the entire experience for people of many faiths, I think.

I don't want to see bright, ridiculous, plastic junk when I am starting to think about honoring my ancestors and cooking sacred foods and planning observances.  I don't want to see this fake, rainbow riot when it's still warm outside.  I actually don't want to see it at all until, at the earliest, Black Friday (which I also do not celebrate.)

I want--and I'm sure others feel the same way--to be able to finish enjoying my summer and have time to plan my Halloween costume and share silence in honor of those who have passed this year.  I want to have time to enjoy the turning of the leaves and the smells that come with Autumn.

Scenes like the one above are obnoxious to me.  I don't like it when people decorate their homes like this, but I leave people alone--we all have the right to do what we want at the Holidays.

Decoration in our home is very minimal.  This is partly by necessity:  Cats and Holiday decorations often don't mix well;  however, it is also by choice.  During my Holidays, I am busy doing:  Cooking.  Making.  Celebrating.  Being with the people in my life who mean the most of me.  Having too much decor, I find, distracts me from what I'm really doing in that time, in that space.  I keep Holiday cards on display and I have a simple, lighted wreath that hangs on the wall in our living room.

My fondest Holiday memory from recent years (this happened about seven years ago) was of the Christmas that I decided to hand make all of my cards and to make candy for people from scratch.  I started right after Halloween, and I made about twenty cards.  Around Thanksgiving, I found a recipe for brittles, and I contacted the people on my card list, asking who wanted candy, and what kind of brittle they wanted.  I think I made four varieties.  Every single package was created from  scratch with love, and every single one was very enthusiastically received.  At that same time, I had a friend who was doing the same with apple butter (though she did not choose to make her cards.)  Best apple butter I ever had!

There's another Holiday where my family had been generously gifted with fresh, locally grown produce.  My parents' neighbors gave them so much that I got some, and I had a coworker whose CSA had been similarly generous.  I reaped the rewards of both of those hauls, and one Fall day, I made a huge pot of veggie pasta/stew.  This all happened right in time for my Thanksgiving Holiday, which I celebrate on August 1.

Finally, there was the year that I had a party on Christmas Eve.  In a small condo.  With ten cats.  I invited a lot of people, and ultimately, 26 people came!  On Christmas Eve!  Everyone had a great time (no one was bothered by the cats,) and I was gratified to see that so many people wanted to share their Christmas Eve with me.

What do all three of these occasions have in common?  None of them involved hours and hours of mindless shopping, inane and repetitive holiday music, and mindless buying.  All of them filled my heart--and those of others--with joy.

No matter what I am celebrating or what time of year it is, I don't want plastic gew gaws.  I want joy.  I want connection.  I want deep experience--aromas, flavors, sensations, and time for connection with the true spirit of that Holiday.  The plastic simply distracts and pollutes.


Linda Gordon said...

Well said J.

JLynnPro said...

Thanks, Linda. I was concerned it might come off as Bah-Humbug, but I actually enjoy all of the various holidays I celebrate as much as anyone else.

I just like to keep it simple and stay focused on what's important.

Have a greate weekend!

Anonymous said...

Finally a person that puts some real work into a blog. I do like what you have done with the blog.

JLynnPro said...