Christmas is over and done with, again, finally, and good riddance. Ever since the invention of the Hallmark Christmas, for way too many months before the actual date of Christmas, we have been barraged by tinsel and shiny balls and elves and Santa and reindeers and fake snow and stupid messages of merriment written in shop windows, and a whole lot of pressure is placed on us to supply loved ones with more possessions and belongings and socks and jocks and chocolate and booze. Combine this weird consumer pressure with the fact that most Australians who celebrate Christmas aren’t religious in the slightest, plus the presence of heat waves during December, and you’ve got yourself one pretty meaningless celebration.
For my family, like many others, it is a tradition to come together every Christmas, exchange gifts, eat food, and be nice to each other. In the two years since I moved to Melbourne, I have flown back to Perth to see the family, because I am the only one who lives outside of this small city of ours, and they’d be major pissed off if I didn’t show. Plus my grandpa is quite sick at the moment, and I love that guy, so I want to be here. I suppose it is because of this that, despite the good intentions, this year’s celebration seemed kind of futile.
My grandmother and youngest brother prepared the food, but it was lackluster. The seating arrangements were last minute, no one put any effort into present-buying (see: bulk buying one thing for 3 people or more), my grandpa could barely eat and had to lie down for most of the meal, the two 13 year olds in the family were being completely obnoxious, I had a few awkward conversations, then everyone parted ways. I felt hardly any trace of fun (except for when I was pulling faces at my mum), sharing, warmth, etc, all the things you’re supposed to feel at this time of year, all the things you’re taught are meant to be there, all the things I kind of vaguely remember from when I was much younger. Or was that just the excitement of a personalized gift? I have no idea.
The more I come to understand the importance of family relationships, the sadder I get about the Christmas “celebration” in my own experience. It feels like everyone is simply going through the motions, too half-assed about it to simply refuse to play into the consumer aspect, because they’ve never known any better, and are too distracted by everything else to consider an alternative. I hand sewed dolls for the two babies in my family, which was pretty much it in terms of gift giving from me this year, and I got the impression that it wasn’t appreciated, despite the consideration and love I put into those gifts. I think that sums everything up pretty well.
So given years of frustration, disappointment and boredom with this season, and all the shit that goes with it, I’ve decided that since it is impossible to escape, I will offer an alternative to the members of my family, hopefully one that can change their perspective and/or liven things up a little. Even if Opa is sick, he still deserves to smile and laugh in the company of a loving family, one who isn’t rushing out the door within half an hour of the end of the meal because they’ve done their job and can go and have some fun now.
A Buy Nothing Christmas would be ideal, the only rule being that if one is going to spend money on a gift, it should be somewhere that supports local industry, artists, designers etc. Otherwise, you make something. Easy. All it takes is a little bit of thought, and the smallest, least expensive gift would be a thousand times more unique and special than a sampler six-pack of cider. Or, one can go to a charity website and browse the list of gift ideas there. Regardless of how into charity conspiracy theories you are, it’s hard to deny that giving money to a charity to help out a starving family on the other side of the world is a better idea than buying a vain 14 year old girl a hair straightener.
I hope all of your Christmases were full of festivities and food and family and loveliness, and may you burn off any extra kilos with some good quality beach time, you lucky devils. I’m heading back to the overcast, wet and terribly-beached side of the Bight for New Years Eve, with view to embrace that holiday’s tradition; wake up on January 1st with no recollection of the resolutions I’d decided on when I was trashed the night before. At least there is no bullshitting about the meaning of New Years. I do love an honest holiday.