It all started as I was perusing the well known aisles of our local dollar store. I was in search of an abundance of cheap decorations for my kids birthday party. The dollar store is great for this kind of venture as it is always jam packed with stuff. And to add insult to injury, for a fraction of the price other places will sell it for. Therefore I can get twice…Three times as much stuff. And oh how I love stuff.
I found the stuff I was in search of plus another entire basketful full of addition stuff and at that point I was gleaming with joy in all of the stuff I had gained.
Finally after a few days and ten more trips to the dollar store the birthday party was upon us. A plethora of kids and family showed up. With them they drug bags filled with brightly colored tissue paper and you guessed it, more stuff.
It was when I was chucking out all of the disposable decorations I had bought for the party and looking around in astonishment of all of the shit that my 4 and 6 year old acquired in a matter of 4 hours that the reality hit me. I had surrendered myself wholly to the evils of extreme consumerism.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not going to go out and start hunting rabbits for sustenance or tell my kids we are kyboshing Christmas gifts this year. I mean really, consumerism has done a lot of practical good for the world. But sometimes it can get the best of us.
And it had for me and my family.
I knew this when I saw my children ripping through presents hardly saying a thank-you before setting their eyes on the next item to be obtained (despite my constant reminding of manners). I knew we had been usurped by greed as my husband and I sneakily tossed out old toys so the children would literally have room for the new ones being hauled in by the truckload.
I look at my own habits and know I am no better- hell I’m the one they’ve probably learnt it from. I find myself in the big box stores frantically searching for sales and deals. When happening upon a cheap item of clothing I will buy ten of them…Like seriously?! Why do I need ten pairs of leggings? I do laundry daily.
Why do we need to surround ourselves with material debris that holds no emotional merit?
With Black Friday recently passing I realize I am not the only one who finds comfort in the material stuff. Materialism and greed surround us and I am sure it will only get worse as our world evolves. However I am not here to tell you how to live. I’m not here to explain what’s right and what is wrong. I don’t have those answers.
But what I will tell you is during these next few holiday weeks especially, I will be keeping my spending habits in check.
I will be reminding myself next time I am grocery shopping at the big box store and pass the clothing section that I have everything I need at home. And better yet, I will adventure into the homey downtown section of my city and explore the local shops- the mom and pop stops. I want my money to be spent locally this Christmas season.
Instead of buying more stuff to give to that acquaintance I wanted to share some holiday spirit with I will ask them out for coffee or give them a homemade basket of preserves and baked goods. When thinking of decorations I will be creative and use what I have instead of buying throwaway goods that in the end pollute our earth with even more unnecessary junk.
I will buy second hand and I will donate instead of trashing.
Again, I am not saying that consumerism is a bad thing because it isn’t. But like many ideologies in this day and age we have taken it too far.
Let’s remember this holiday season that good tidings are more essential than material goods. Physical substance cannot give you that same warm sensation as a steaming Bailey’s and coffee with your best friend. And many times the clutter of greed can overshadow the things that really matter in one’s life.
For me, this year will be about showing my children that friends, family and that special feeling that money just can’t buy is what the holidays are truly made for.