It’s happening; I can feel it in the air. It’s barely November and already the steady increase of crazy Christmas consumerism has begun! As soon as the flurry of Halloween costumes, confectionary and unidentified themed plastic objects left shop windows, in popped the Christmas displays to fill the capitalist gap and empty our pockets. Still, no one is forcing us to buy things we don’t need. Are they?
In my previous life (not the one where I was a lucky cat who slept all day in a warm Californian sun…) I worked in retail management. It was my job to make people purchase more; from creating eye catching window displays, and buying in exciting “new” stock, to strategically placing impulse items by the till to catch people out as they stood in the queue, bored and eyes wandering. Christmas was when the big boys came out; the sparkle, the colourfully Christmassy packaging (exactly the same item as usual, only green and red) and of course, the wonderful sales charm.
Now, I’d like to think we’re all much smarter than a few sales tactics. We all know you don’t need to buy things to make Christmas special. It’s the people and the traditions which make it the season of love and good will. But that’s just it; even traditions have been hijacked over the years and transformed into something that fills us with the need to accumulate.
I have been trying hard these last few months to question all the things I think I need, and have found that traditions rank highly on the scale of reasons to buy or create things. We love to find reasons to theme our lives and surround ourselves with experiences which validate how we connect with the world. It’s Easter, let’s eat chocolate. It’s summer, we need new clothes. It’s October, crack out the pumpkins. Merry Christmas, lets buy/make everything we associate with the season and fill up our houses with materials belongings for one month of the year! As my friend recently remarked about Christmas:
“It’s basically all about filling your cupboards with every kind of food and drink – all types of cheese, snacks, puddings and alcohol – and sitting in a sparkly room you’ve dressed up with a dead tree and trying to get obese!”
A little cynical but not far off the mark.
Even the most frugal, resource conscious family will still feel the magnetic urge of tradition; as they stock up on things they associate with activities, memories and sensations of Christmas. Whether we’re buying Christmas wreaths or making our own from recycled items; we rarely question why we want a fake decorated bush on our front door. It’s just tradition isn’t it?
So maybe, before we rush out to stock up on our favourite seasonal treats, we should take the time to question the need behind our purchases or projects. Every Family has their own traditions but generally the following items are commonly consumed this time of year:
Iconic Items Associated with Christmas
- Christmas cake and pudding
- Mince Pies
- Baileys and Eggnog
- Mulled wine or cider
- Christmas Wreath
- Christmas Tree
- Christmas cards
- Fairy lights
So what do you think?
Can you already feel yourself subconsciously being drawn to any of the above items?
Are you already making your Christmas chutney (even though you don’t really like it) or making lists of presents to for buy people? Is there anything you could add to my list from your own traditions?
Do you think I’m being a scrooge or do you agree that traditions are the key to our consumerist habits?