A Blueprint For A Merrier Christmas: Gifts That Defy Modern Consumerism

Despite the criticisms, the greed, the gluttony, and the rampant expenditure on unwanted or short-lived items, Christmas in the 21st century can still serve a purpose.

Though there are many aspects of a modern Christmas which are unappealing, and at times even damaging, it does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon, and for that reason, rather than fighting the festive mood, it may be best to embrace and subvert it.

What we now see as Christmas, the stress and struggle of buying presents, the financial hardship that inevitably follows a busy December period, the feasting on food and alcohol, it is not how it always was, and thus is not how it always has to be.

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There Is More To Love Than Spending Money On A Specific Date In February

For those in love, it is one of the most important dates in the calendar, but for those who are not so lucky, it can be a sad, lonely, and downright miserable day.

Valentines can be tough, and I feel your pain singletons. You and I are in the same boat. You know the one I mean, that same single boat, with individual seats, microwave meals, and the space for double beds, but not the need. It is a voyage many of us have been on for some time, and no matter how often we check to see if someone wants to board, the jetty is always deserted.

Traditionally this is the part where you are told that somebody is out there for you, that if you just tried a little harder, spent a bit more money on a haircut and some new clothes, and downloaded the latest app to improve your chances, you too could find yourself on a two-person yacht, floating along the river of love. But I am not here to tell you that.

Finding “the one” has almost nothing to do with the length of your fringe, or the colour of your shirt. It has nothing to do with the money in your wallet, the stubble on your chin, or the jewellery around your neck. Finding “the one” is deeper than that, and it goes to the very roots of what makes us humans.

The earth that we all inhabit provides us with all the necessary things we need in order to thrive. As long as we treat this earth with love, care and affection, it will continue to provide for our needs for thousands of years to come. What is fairly obvious is that we only have one earth, and once that is gone, there is no way of getting it back again. The entire planet is a living, breathing ecosystem, and as humans we are a small part of a complex interconnected web of relationships.

Whilst the individual parts remain in place and conduct their actions in harmony with others, the web retains its strength and solidarity. When though, the harmony is disrupted, relationships break down and the web begins to weaken.

The streams that were once so clean, giving us an endless supply of fresh water, have now become polluted. Instead of quenching our thirst, the water makes us ill. The air that once smelled so sweetly is now thick with smog, causing us to cough and wheeze. The soil that used to be fertile and rich in nutrients is now dust. The trees that gave shelter from the wind and provided habitats for wild animals have disappeared.

To quote the great philosopher Will.I.Am: “Where is the love?”

Love may be a day ear-marked in the calendars of businesses; a day whereby couples are encouraged to spend money on one another to prove their feelings; a day for buying, writing, and sending Valentines cards; but love is not an emotion. Or at least it doesn’t seem to be.

Why must love be confined to just one of the 365 days in the modern calendar? Why must love only relate to one of the many persons in your life? Why is it that without any sign of irony we cut down acres of forests in order to produce cards designed to show what caring and compassionate people we are?

Call me a cynic, but isn’t there more to feeling love than simply exchanging unnecessary gifts on a specific date each year? Call me a hippy, but isn’t the inherent problem with “finding the one” the fact that as humans we are all one already?

Emotions and feelings are not a tool to be marketed, love can’t be purchased, and affection has no price. The love that you are encouraged to show to your partner on February the 14th is the love that should be present when interacting with all living things. Just like with your boyfriend or girlfriend, if you love the earth and treat it right, it will love you back. But unlike your boyfriend or girlfriend, the earth cannot defend and provide for itself.

In order to sustain this wonderful planet, and in order to ensure our continued survival as a species on this rock that we call home, we must learn to love her once again.  More important than the love between two people on one day, is the love between seven billion people and the earth.

I am not asking you to abandon Valentine’s Day completely, or to end your romance with the person of your dreams, or to run away to the nearest convent and take a vow of celibacy. What I am asking you to do is share the love that you feel. Share it amongst your friends, family, relatives, neighbours, and share it with the people in this world who have yet to see the kind and caring side of you that your partner is witness to on a daily basis.

For those of you lucky enough to be in love, why not share such a wonderful feeling. Why not give back to the planet that has already given you so much. As for us singletons, whilst our search for a partner continues – a search that may last quite some time in my case – we must never forget that there is an outlet for our feelings. There is a whole world in need of love, a whole world that would be more than happy to receive it, and to return it. It is a world that will not expect you to pay the bill, or be disappointed with just the dozen roses.

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
– Jane Goodall

This was originally posted on the Renewable World blog

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2014: My Last Traditional Christmas

I have always been granted the title of Scrooge when it came to Christmas, but it seems that this year I am finally deserving of it. What’s more is that I am not even ashamed to bear such a name.

Whereas Scrooge went from cold-hearted Christmas hater to lovable Uncle, I have done somewhat the opposite. Obviously when you are young and innocent Christmas is a time of receiving shed loads of presents, getting fat on sweets and chocolates, and staying up late to watch films. Though there is still some of that to be found as you grow older, your mind begins to place the celebrations in the context of your life. Or at least it should do.

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