I can’t quite believe I’m typing this seeing as it’s still somewhere around May in my brain, but it’s nearly Christmas. Mariah Carey is watching her bank balance gain multiple extra zeroes at an exponential rate as we all try and work out what the fuck we’re going to buy for our family, friends and weird co-worker whose name we pulled out of the hat for secret santa.
I remember, just a few years ago, mentally listing everything I’d bought for people and thinking, “it’s not enough!”. I’d go out and scour the shops for another book or trinket or anything I could find to look sufficiently generous and show my love. But isn’t it ridiculous that we think we can quantify how much we love someone with material goods?
Of course, I love giving gifts and I consider myself a pretty good gift-giver. It’s lovely to see someone’s face light up when they open up something that you’ve picked out just for them, something that reflects who they are or hints at an in-joke between the two of you.
There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts. What is wrong though, is this pressure that’s been created that makes us feel like we have to shower people with lots and lots of BRAND NEW things. It creates a sense of panic and it’s exactly why the shops are absolutely full up with useless shit. A set of four chemistry-inspired shot glasses anyone? How about the world’s smallest voice changer or some ‘meh’ plasters? These are all real things that are available to buy from Urban Outfitters right now. They exist only because we’re made to feel like we have to buy this frivolous, useless stuff in order to express affection or love or respect or even just to fit in with everyone else.
Stop and think for a second, though. Is it love? Or is it a burden? A burden on the person who has to find something to do with their gift after a week because it brings no real value to their life. A burden on the planet, the limited resources of which were mined and used to make this tat. A burden on the charity shops who have to try and find a way to flog all the useless shit they inevitably receive. A burden on our planet once again when it ends up in landfill.
Three or four years ago, my boyfriend and I decided not to do Christmas gifts anymore. It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. It just means that we don’t feel we have to express it in the way the shops want us to. I still buy gifts for other people. And it’s OK if you buy gifts for people too. It’s your choice. But don’t allow the adverts, the newsletters and the shopping features to whip you up into a frenzy and convince you that you haven’t got enough or that what you have isn’t new enough or shiny enough.
A book token or a jumper or a cake, or whatever you’re giving, is enough. Even if you can’t find – or can’t afford – a gift, your love is enough. You don’t have to buy a cat phone clip (real) or a little book of drinking games (also real) as a physical manifestation of something you already feel and show every single day.
Love doesn’t come wrapped in plastic and it isn’t found in the ‘under £5’ section of online shops. Relieve yourself, your loved ones and the planet of the pressure. They’ll still love you.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brits receive over 60 million unwanted gifts annually and one in ten of them end up in landfill. On top of that, 5 billion pounds (in weight) of gifts returned to retailers will end up in landfill too.