Christmas shopping. I should be good at it. I am good at it. I love shopping. I would say it's a hobby up there with blogging, eating and going to see bands. I am usually so organised that by now I have smugly bought and wrapped all of the presents and they are sent to Santa* But this year, a week and a bit before Christmas, I still have a few more presents to buy and I am actually dreading venturing out for more shopping. And I really shouldn't begrudge Christmas. I can't wait to finish work on 22 December, go to my parents' place, relax, cook good food and enjoy being with the people I love at Christmas time. Isn't that what Christmas is meant to be about - love?
*When I was a kid, my parents would buy things from the Doubleday Bookclub and "send them to Santa" via the high cupboard in my bedroom. The high cupboard was a passage to the North Pole. On reflection, I learnt about this sort of thing in my International Business subject in third year uni - the subject where I never attended any classes because quite frankly it bored me yet I still aced it - one of my proudest moments. I digress. This sending to Santa caper is definitely some sort of economic theory: a product is made/grown in Australia - the All Right Vegemite book for example. It is them exported overseas and altered - once it arrives at the North Pole, Santa's elves wrap the All Right Vegemite book, and writes a tag in wobbly cursive. The product is then imported back into Australia - the All Right Vegemite book arrives back in Australia via sleigh - or by ute as per my header picture, Rudolph leads the way, Santa squeezes himself down the Coonara heater's chimney, and places it under the tree, drinking a can of VB on the way out. There you have it, an economic theory applied to Santa.Who said I didn't pay any attention in class?
I digress. This year, I lost my Christmas spirit at the megamall. I went to buy the bulk of the presents at my local shopping centre last Saturday. Exhausting. Parents trying to control their children, threatening them with Santa to encourage good behaviour. Really poor customer service - and they wonder why we do our shopping online now.
And there is too much choice.I think that is my problem. Too much choice. The stores yell at customers to buy things. Encourage greed - General Pants has a sign that reads "Good things come to those who want".
This makes me feel sick. Apart from the clever and eerily sung Bonds ad, I'm hating the commercialism of it all. Christmas feels like a competition of who can buy the best present, spend the most money, rack up the most frequent flyer points and give the most extravagant gift. I just want to get everyone meaningful and affordable presents - and hope the recipients love what I've chosen. And ensure I have money left over to pay for my rent.
And also, there are not not enough book stores. Who thought the store that sells the most books would be fashion chain Portmans? I've been getting my books from the social club book shelf at work. Or Portmans and Sportsgirl. I know.
I asked my Mum what I should buy Dad for Christmas. She said she didn't know. "But you live with him" I said. Gosh. I asked Dad what he wants for Christmas. "Nothing" he said. And so for the man who wants nothing, I shall donate to a cause.
And that is where I found my Christmas spirit. Causes and helping others. I went to my local shopping strip after the megamall. Found some beautiful gifts that through purchasing, support local businesses - and come with good service! I bought some cute toys to put in the charity box a work. I've given to the Salvation Army Band on the street. And yesterday I found this - Gingerbread Village by Epicure at Melbourne City Gallery. It is an amazing work of pastry art that is making a difference to the community.
You can see how it was made here.
When you visit Gingerbread Village you can make a donation to the Starlight Foundation and write your name on a cardboard gingerbread man to place on a Christmas tree. So beautiful. And a great cause.
Have you lost your Christmas spirit this year? Has all the fun been taken out of Christmas because of commercialism?