Christmas madness and mayhem – how deeply do you get sucked in?

IMG_4696“If everyone in the world were to live in the way we currently do in the UK we would need more than three Earths to produce the resources we would use and absorb the wastes we would generate.”

“Britain uses over 8,000 tonnes of wrapping paper over Christmas, which produces over 83 square km of rubbish – enough to cover Guernsey.”

“The average family wastes around a third of the food they buy at Christmas.” 

~Life2.org.uk, ‘How to have a better xmas’

How are the xmas preparations going in your life? Are you being caught up in the craziness of the season, spending money you don’t have, buying things that people don’t need, just because you’re feeling under pressure to do so? Or are you using this time to take stock, step back and reflect on what’s important in your life and why?

It’s so easy to get dragged along in the frenzy of Christmas.

My husband and I choose not to have a television, but when we visit my parents, it’s on for much of the afternoon and evening. Staying with them recently, I could see where the madness and mayhem manifests for many people over Christmas via the box – those marketing messages suck you in at every turn until you believe you simply must buy, buy, buy or else.

Or else what? Or else you may be seen as a humbug, a spoilsport, a miser, a scrooge!

Northern and southern hemisphere contrasts

I’m struck by the contrasts I perceive between a British and a New Zealand Christmas. I’d forgotten until last year how crazy it gets here.

I guess it’s vastly different having Christmas in the height of summer to the middle of winter, when people are hungry for any distraction from the dark and cold, the short days and long nights.

IMG_0481For many years I’d dreamed of having a Christmas on the beach, and in 2001 I made that come true. My youngest daughter, who was taking a year out and travelling Australia, spent the festive season and her 19th birthday with me in Gisborne, NZ.

Xmas day was spent on Wainui Beach, with lunch from a BBQ fired by driftwood (at that time I wasn’t aware of the extreme fire risks of such a thing!), and we enjoyed the company of a few friends in our bikinis and santa hats. I adored it, though I can understand that for many people that would just not be seen as ‘right’.

Christmas ‘Carols in the Park’ would be held on a Sunday in December (though admittedly one year I was there it never happened due to wet weather postponements!), and we’d all gather and sit on our picnic rugs, singing carols, with children playing and waiting for Father Xmas.

Christmas memories

Reflecting back, there were many aspects of the British Christmas traditions I loved when my children were young. The three of us would gather in my bed opening presents on Christmas morning, and at that time my parents and sisters all lived close-by; so we’d share the festive season together. I also recall the immense pressure even back then (the 80s and 90s) to spend money and make sure you had a gift for everyone.

Each year I’d aim to spend less. But somehow each January (and into February!) I’d still struggle financially having gone way over budget. They were the worst months of the year.

The secrets of life

IMG_4682

I can only imagine the pressure on parents in the 21st century. Social media hadn’t been invented when my children were growing up. Reading the quotes from ‘How to have a better xmas‘ by Life2, I wonder what would change if those types of messages were broadcast widely – would it impact on people’s spending urges?

During my first nine-month stay in NZ, I was fortunate to experience the gift of time alone to reflect on my life. Where I’d been, who I’d become, what I wanted for my future.

And I discovered this poster from ‘Sumi’, in a shop in Napier. Since that time, it’s come everywhere with me, always on a wall where I can read it and be encouraged to acknowledge that the secrets of life are NOT about giving people ‘stuff’ they don’t need.

I recently read about ‘Crisis at Christmas’, and felt incredibly humbled and grateful for my life and loving family.

I still get sucked in every now and again, and part with my hard earned cash to buy when I really have no need to. But those times are becoming less and less, as I realise the real gifts of life cannot be bought.

How about you?

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