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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Consumption and Christmas

In our household we don't give Christmas or birthday presents. This is not a hard and fast rule as sometimes something that one of us wants/needs coincides with one of these events and it gets a simple gift wrapping from the recycled wrapping drawer. When Jean's mum visits at Christmas she does get a token gift left under the tree just to make her feel welcome on this annual visit. And she always brings gifts for the four legged children (easily pleased with food) and being people who don't need anything we get some crisp new currency which Jean appropriates and banks as savings.

We're not Scrooges it's just that these milestone days force people to buy large quantities rubbish which not long after the event is discarded or finds the back of a closet. Fine if you can match the timing with something that is needed but usually we struggle to find anything useful. A lot of our friends acquire expensive trinkets during the year and when an event day arrives up goes the ante and a whoppingly expensive toy is purchased. A Kindle to keep the Ipad company or a Shuffle to keep in the draw with the Nano which was replaced with the Iphone.

We don't have mobile phones. I've worked on farm jobs with people who have them and observed the productivity decline with inane calls received and I've overheard those idiotic conversations in the supermarket which result from not keeping a shopping list. We have a friend who continually gets calls from her spouse “where are you now?”. “About two metres west of where I was 10 minutes ago”.

In a Mel Gibson movie “We were Soldiers” the Gunnery sergeant is asked if he need a gun during a serious confrontation with the opposing side. “When I need a gun I won't have any trouble finding one” is his response as he goes about rallying the men and directing the defence. My thoughts about mobile phones in our daily movements about HHF is “when I need a mobile phone I won't have any trouble finding one”.. Don't misunderstand. They are the most marvellous invention used appropriately in the appropriate situations. Which is not texting at 100 KPH on the freeway.

I do have an MP3 player. It's a cheap one $30. Slashing paddocks is a boring job and listening to an educational podcast simultaneously is a very Permaculture rule – Function Stacking.

Back to the topic of gifts. We always discuss the value of acquiring an item before we buy just to make sure it's not a frivolous spur of the moment thing. When the other agrees it's a wise purchase it always feels like a gift. So our year is littered with gifts rather than occupying one or two occasions.

And then there is the topic of Christmas decorations. The over the top volume of decorations people buy (and throw away) each year. Those little electric Santas that wobble about and HO HO HO their way into the rubbish bin. It is like the government/business cry to grow the economy more each year. Bigger and more elaborate each time. The previous year's is not good enough.

I think is rather nice to enact the childhood by erecting a tree and decorating it. We still use the same tinsel and baubles that we used 25 years ago. The tree is a suitably shaped branch from one of our Casuarinas mounted in a bucket of rocks. After the event it becomes firewood and the decorations are packed away for next year. Does anyone remember buying crepe paper cutting it and weaving long chains to hang from the ceiling?

What ever happened to moderation and the art of spending time making your own decorations. The joy of simple things.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post, I had a giggle at the mobile phone part, I must agree they are so over used but Im guilty of charged { I wish I wasnt} my Dad has a heart condition and we have a agreement we ring each other once in morning and once at night so hence a keep it on me at all times just in case, but it drives me insane with other texts and calls that I could so do without. I remember those paper decorations I loved making those, we made them every year.