“Christmas is coming.” Depending on how you view Christmas, those words can seem ominous, like a dark cloud, or full of ecstasy. I happen to LOVE Christmas with a giddy passion. The time leading up to Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love Christmas lights, baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, Christmas music, hot cocoa, and Jesus and Santa Claus both.
What I don’t love about Christmas is the hyper-consumerism and the pressure to spend, spend, spend. I hate the message we get from TV ads that tells us that a happy Christmas is dependant on how many gifts you have under your tree. I consciously live my life outside of that paradigm. As Mommy and CEO of my household, I am responsible for the gift-giving, which gives me the power to make a statement about non-consumerism with my Christmas giving.
In the past I’ve gone back and forth about how best to have a non-consumer Christmas. The first year my conscience was really getting to me and I happened to be low on cash. I told friends and family not to buy for me because I wouldn’t be buying for them. It wasn’t a very satisfying Christmas because I learned that I do enjoy giving, as long as I’m able to give something that lines up with my value system. More on that in a sec.
For my second non-consumer Christmas, I picked a charity that I knew the recipient believed in and donated in their honor. For my in-laws I donated to the Golden Retriever Rescue in their city. This is the organization from which they adopted their dog. They both said it was a very cool, meaningful gift. I ended up spending more money that Christmas than if I had bought regular gifts because I found so many worthy charities. I had a blast researching different non-profits and finding ones to suit my various family members. I would definitely do this again, as I had a positive response from my family.
Last Christmas, I bought gifts but bought mostly from fair trade organizations or charities. It was easy for the women. They got jewelery made by women in India or Nepal. The men were a little harder. I did buy traditional gifts for some of them. This is what I will be doing again this year. There are hundreds of amazing hand-made gifts that support artisans all over the world and allow them to support themselves and their children.
This is a lovely post from another WordPress blogger about the joy of gift-giving. I would love to hear what others are doing to circumvent the consumerism of Christmas.
In the meantime, here are some links to fair-trade gifts.
Ten Thousand Villages– hundreds of handmade gifts from artisans all over the world.
Fair Trade Marketplace– more gifts from all over the world.
Night Light International – jewelery made by Thai women who were victims of sex trafficking, a personal favorite of mine.