It is absurd if the purpose of Christmas is to maintain the economy by boosting the retail sector which would otherwise collapse..
And so Christmas causes an estimated 10% of household waste, the employment of thousands in production often unwanted, and every year journalists can write funny stuff about the hassle of Christmas, groan, groan, groan.
Yet whether you are Christians adoring the Christ Child or not, Christmas could be a universal time to renew peace and goodwill, celebrate with kith and kin, and cut the gap of rich and poor.
We could find other ways to have useful jobs and sources of profits instead of a Christmas market, other ways for people to have the pleasure of being given things at Christmas, and the pleasure of giving things at Christmas without being into the current hassling.
Alternative Christmas - My dream Yuletide
Less than 365 dreaming days before the next Christmas. The ideas do not come in any sort of order, but here are some, to put in your stocking now, and start to fill it up.
For all you spend to give good things to your family and friends, give an equal amount to help the rest of the world. Some rich people might not even feel the extra giving. These 'quids for quos' can be ritualised, with attractive gift cards from charities and causes to give with the gift to friend or rellie. "This gift to you has been doubled by an equal gift in your name to . . . . ." Some people prefer all the gifts given to them to be a gift to the world.
It is an horrendous thought, to look at a shopping centre and reflect that in three months time, 50% of the goods on display may be landfill or other waste-disposal problems. But how can there be jobs and businesses if people do not buy products that are single-use, obsolescing, undurable? (See Jobs that are needed') Experiment with family pre-Christmas 'Santa Claus' listings offering multiple-choices which include 'Surprise'. 'Santa Claus' listings could, indeed, be made into part of the whole Christmas ritual, and be included as a page in diaries, together with Christmas-card lists.
Some Ideas to prevent "Waste = Christmas"
It is ironic that the story of Christmas is about poor people with no room to stay, no bed for childbirth and no bed for baby.
- Family heirloom Christmas decorations kept from year to year in a (non-flammable container, up in the roof if nowhere else. When a household moves and cannot take their Family Heirloom Christmas decorations with them, they can leave the box in the roof marked as 'Household Heirloom Christmas Decorations' for the incomers, or donate to a charity shop. Only the tatty pieces need get thrown out each year.
- Christmas cards are an important source of income for charities. But there is terrible waste in throwing them out at the end of each Christmas time. There are alternatives -
- Save your favorite cards each year, and put them up again next year. I save mine in plastic envelopes (saved from incoming postal articles) according to topic - Australian/decorations/art reproduction/funny/birds etc. and often find they come in useful during the year. Some cards are saved to make next year's gift tags. Each pre-Christmas time is also a time to remember old friends as their cards are taken out again, many now making a series received over the years.
- Send out your really good Christmas cards unmarked, with a filler note of greetings and a message 'This is a recyclable card' so that recipients can send on its loveliness to others.
- Cut off the names page and find preschools or other places where people can give your cards to children to play with and cut up and use in many ways.
Much gift-wrap can be steam-ironed and re-used when children and adults are trained not to rip it greedily, but the whole practice of wrapping paper wastes trees, money and products and many people hate the chore of wrapping presents. Yet it is exciting and great fun to receive a gift all wrapped up - it seems more of a present than something handed to you penny plain. Some suggestions: -
- The Japanese practice of giving gifts wrapped in pretty scarfs, which can be used as scarfs or kept to wrap up more presents. The Japanese also make gift boxes and wraps out of many materials that would otherwise be wasted - such as papier-mache or weaving them out of rushes. Little baskets and wicker plates can also be re-used, but it can be a problem storing them to the next gift-time, even for op-shops. Easier to store in a flat box or drawer are the little decorated plastic bags that many small items are now put into when bought. These can be decorated, and tied with ribbon - and re-used again. Some can be funny-bags when matched with the presents inside.
- Make it part of the household ritual of gift-giving and receiving to open each present with care and slow-mounting excitement, instead of just ripping off the paper without even noticing it and scattering it and then on to wanting the next present. Children can learn how to look at the gift-wrap as part of the present, and then open it with care - and put the wrapping aside gently, so that it can be re-used again for more presents next time!
Everything about Christmas should be happy and fun, from the preparation not left to one sole woman but the household joining in, to the clearing up. It is partly the spirit that ensures this - but some 'fun' spoils fun. A Christmas party with all your senses intact can drop the stupid inhibitions, while keeping the sane ones. People with other sources of fun than alcohol or drugs can have more hilarious times than people needing to binge on destructive oral intakes. Informal singing can be riotous. And boo to the Scrooges who say it would be awful.
Religion The spirit of great religions and humanist non-religions is humane and people-loving, enjoying creation rather than destruction. Christmas is a time to revive this spirit and to revive your own spirit, renewing your own religion and non-religion.
But what about the supernatural?
What do you say to children when they ask you about Father Christmas?
Surely tell them the truth, at the level they can understand. You neither lie nor spoil their happy innocence.
Tell them that Father Christmas is a Beaut
Pretend to join in.
If they dont want the pretend they need not have it.
You bet they all say, "Yes, we want the Pretend," and join in,
because children love Pretends,
and play many of them themselves, and they like getting presents.
Does Father Christmas come to take the gift left for him?
"We pretend he does."
How does he come down the chimney?"
"We pretend he does, and we make up stories about the reindeer and all that."
Who is Father Christmas?"
Tell them the story about St Nicholas and go on from there. Father Christmas is the spirit of giving.
When you tell children the truth about Santa Claus, they can trust you when you tell them the truth about other things. And as for the first Christmas story itself, you can tell them truly what you think it means, what you believe, what you do not know and what you hope, and they will not be mixed up.
Christmas all the year Our family are Yules, so we have Christmas all the year, but all you un-Yules can have Christmas in your hearts all year - an evergreen to flower next Christmas.