Updated: Jan 16, 2019
For most, Christmas is a time of giving, spending time with family and celebration. Traditionally, it's a celebration of Christ's birth by spreading joy and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves. The story of Santa Claus was inspired by St Nicholas, a wealthy Bishop who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra (now within modern-day Turkey). He had a reputation for helping the poor by giving secret gifts to people who needed it most. The fact that the stories and traditions of St Nicholas have survived from the 4th Century AD until now and spread so far and wide, suggests he was a very inspiring figure indeed and someone worthy of our admiration.
The story of St Nicholas and giving to those in need is a heart-warming one and a great reminder that giving to others is often more satisfying than being the receiver of gifts, especially when we give to those less fortunate than ourselves. So far so good. But is this the Christmas message that our children are learning, or has this somehow been replaced by the rampant buying habits and spending sprees that happen every Christmas as we stock up on gifts for all of our family, friends and colleagues?
Try the 4-Gift Rule. Get your kids one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing wear and one thing they read. That way we can help limit unnecessary waste and bring back the true meaning of Christmas into our childrens' lives!
Legacy of Amusement
There's nothing he needs, nothing he doesn't already own and nothing he even wants. So you buy your uncle a nodding plastic dog for his car dashboard, a packet of hilarious flashing beard decorations which come complete with a dizzying array of plastic, metal and wires, and an attachable beer belly made from cheap foam. These gifts seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, pointless on the second and embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth day of Christmas, they're on their way to landfill to spend the next century decaying into smaller and smaller pieces of harmful plastic. For 30 seconds of laughter and a fleeting moment of amusement, many of us give gifts like these every Christmas knowing full well they'll never be used again. What a waste of materials; what a terrible indignity for the environment and what a legacy to leave generations to come!
Throw-away Christmas Cheer
In her film, The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard's research demonstrated that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remained in use six months after sale. Even goods meant for long-term use end up condemned to landfill in a short time due to planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable). For a wonderful celebration centered on kindness and giving to people in need, we'd be hard pressed to veer any further away from the true message of Christmas. And the worst part? That's what we're teaching our children every time we fill their stockings with cheap plastic throwaway toys and the latest fashion fads and gizmos.
"The story of St Nicholas and giving to those in need is a heart-warming one and a great reminder that giving to others is often more satisfying than being the receiver of gifts, especially when we give to those less fortunate than ourselves."
I'm no Scrooge. I love the spirit of Christmas. It has the potential to bring out the best in people by uniting communities and spreading goodwill for all. But something's gotta give. We need to return to the true message of Christmas and away from a throw-away culture of consumerism and waste that's only adding to the monumental environmental burden, we're already handing down to our children and grandchildren to take care of further down the line.
Buying Presents: 4-Gift Rule
So how about this? I like solutions, not problems. Try the 4-Gift Rule: Get your kids one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear and one thing they read. That way we can help limit unnecessary waste and bring back the true meaning of Christmas into our lives!
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