Friday, December 11, 2020

Dreaming of a Christmas Without Stuff Nobody Wants or Needs

Freeing ourselves of unwanted/unneeded gift-giving is not just heresy in a debt-funded consumerist economy--it is tantamount to treason.

Did you see the new "gotta-have" coffee-pod flavors this Christmas? Crayfish, Spanish Moss, Pumpkin Spicy Radish and Jungle Rot. Yowza, it doesn't get any better than this....

Future archeologists will marvel not just at the enormous quantity of stuff left by our late-oil-boom frenzy of consumption but by the peculiar concentrations of never-used stuff in closets, basements and strange (possibly religious in nature) immense structures comprised of endless rows of small rooms crammed to the ceiling with stuff without any apparent utility or value.

When can we finally admit that Christmas gift-giving no longer serves any purpose other than the purchase of vast quantities of stuff nobody wants or needs? Generations ago, before everyone could buy whatever they wanted on credit, Christmas was the one time when some portion of the savings that had been painfully accumulated by sacrifice would be doled out for small gifts, typically a consumable treat, modest toys for children or a necessity.

Compare that tradition with today's frantic frenzy to find something new that recipients don't need or want and retailers' equally frantic search for new markets: your gerbil doesn't have a plush new bed? Shame on you! Imagine its anguish when everyone else is surrounded by piles of shredded wrapping paper and your poor pet didn't get a single present... where's your Christmas spirit (and credit card)?.

The most appreciated gift you can give is a suggestion to end the obligation to exchange gifts. To state the honest truth--we don't want or need anything else, and don't have space for anything else, thank you--is a gift few are willing to risk saying, but everyone heaves a sigh of relief when one brave person asks to be relieved of the burden of buying another mountain of stuff nobody wants or needs.

There is a long tradition of consumable homemade gifts--Christmas cookies, fruitcake, etc.--that awaits rediscovery.

Freeing ourselves of unwanted/unneeded gift-giving is not just heresy in a debt-funded consumerist economy--it is tantamount to treason. (The lines from an old Errol Flynn movie come to mind: "You speak treason!" "Fluently.") But why should an honest appraisal qualify as both heresy and treason?

The honest truth is hearts don't leap with joy at receiving another unwanted, unneeded thing; hearts sink at the task of moving the gift into some corner of the already-stuffed closet or donating it. What was the point of all this costly frenzy again? To keep a debt-dependent consumer economy from imploding? Is that what Christmas has become?

What's scarce isn't more stuff. What's scarce is time, reflection and the generosity of spirit. We're so busy loading the conveyor belt of unwanted, unneeded stuff in and out of our homes that we have no time to actually spend on what is valuable.

But here, try this new coffee-pod flavor, miso-kumquat-kimchee, I got you the bulk quantity at Costco, you're gonna love it.



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