For the last decade, Christmas has been a time of year that I really dread.
Initially, the dread came from my hatred for mass following of an often misunderstood tradition. Then I worked in retail and the rampant consumerism broke my heart several times over until there was nothing left to break and I turned into a heartless Grinch. More recently, the last 2-3 years, I’ve dreaded my own grinchitude – how it affects me and in turn the people around me.
This year, surprisingly (even shockingly), I’ve been in a much better mood in the lead up to Christmas – heck, I’ve even been playing the odd Christmas carol on repeat.
I was puzzled and confused.
I was almost angry wondering that maybe I’m losing my youthful angst to my late twenties apathy. But after some hard reckoning, I have concluded that it’s a combination of not working in retail and not being in Australia (while still a big deal, Christmas doesn’t seem to take over everyone’s lives here in Chiang Mai). But the biggest reason I think I’m coming to peace with Christmas is because I’ve realised that there is an alternative to being angry with Christmas without necessarily buying into the mass marketing hype. I feel that one could easily celebrate the birth of a pretty cool Jewish brown dude by doing things that he might have done if he were around today.
So here’s a list of alternative things I’m going to attempt to do this Christmas and recommend that any other recovering (or wanting to recover) Grinches give it a shot too. Instead of buying presents, try one of the following:
- Donate blood – nothing’s better than giving the gift of life to someone
- Recycle – clean out your wardrobe and go donate it to an op-shop. If you have old tech lying around that you don’t use, donate that too
- Make a greeting card – Channel your grinchitude into a creative object and design your own greeting card
- Volunteer – Gift your time to an organisation in need
- Gifts of Change – If you absolutely must buy a gift, buy a gift for someone in need on behalf of someone you love
- Ethical Gifts – If you are finding it really hard to break away from the whole gift buying and wrapping thing, then buy it from an ethical outlet like Oxfam
If you’re still struggling, here’s something to cheer you up: