As Christmas approaches, the assault begins. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It begins as early as August, with the occasional commercial, subtly suggesting that you should start planning your finances. It then increases in intensity as the months progress, until in December it becomes a full-on onslaught of BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!
Christmas advertising. There is no escape.
Now, you might thinking I’m being very ‘bah humbug’ about the whole thing. Christmas shopping is part of the whole festive experience is it not?
Well, I know we all like to imagine ourselves cheerfully strolling from one shop to the next, in our finest knitwear, carefully selecting thoughtful gifts. But in reality, people are trampling all over each-other, desperately trying to find something vaguely acceptable so they can just go home to try and convince themselves that they haven’t just spent an entire afternoon playing out a sequence of events motivated by guilt and obligation…
Okay, enough of the doom and gloom. But why do we do this to ourselves?
Well, because we’ve grown up in a culture of consumerism. More is more. And even that is never enough. So many of us are spending our lives doing jobs we hate, just to buy stuff we don’t need. We spend our lives accumulating a mountain of possessions, and it doesn’t even make us happy.
Because what makes us happy is what we do, not what we have.
Think of all the stuff you own. Not only have you paid for it once, but you’re probably also paying for it again and again through insurance, just in case it becomes damaged, lost or stolen. How many hours have you had to work to pay for all that? Just think of what else you could have done with that time and money!
This is how the stuff you own starts to own you.
And we perpetuate this; not only for ourselves, but for others. We’re led to believe that how much we spend on someone at Christmas is a direct reflection of how much we care about them. So we buy the people we love the most, the most stuff. Even though what we really want for our loved ones is for them to be happy. And as we’ve already established, stuff doesn’t make us happy. What makes us happy is spending time with the people we love, doing things that are meaningful to us. It’s our time that’s important.
Let’s try and remember that in the run up to Christmas. Yes, Christmas is the season of giving, but you don’t have to buy, to give. Experiences matter more than things.