It’s that time of year again. The malls are again full of shoppers hurriedly looking for a place to park. The mailbox is stuffed with catalogs from online retailers enticing you with bigger and better stuff. The radio and TV are filled with commercials for holiday gift giving. For some reason, we can’t seem to learn that more stuff will not bring us joy, and whatever happiness Christmas brings us is most likely not to be found in a box under the tree. Not only do we lose sight of the thing we are celebrating, but also of what we need the most – family, friends, and a sense of shared community with all those who are on this increasingly congested planet we call Earth. We have managed to fill our oceans and landfills with the detritus of our stuff, as we discard one item after another in search of the next shiny bauble to distract ourselves from the loneliness that we have created, trying to meet our inner spiritual and emotional needs with more material objects.
At least in the developed world, what we all desperately need is less. We have so many clothes, appliances, and gadgets that we have trouble giving them away. Did you know that of all the clothes that Goodwill collects, they are able to resell only 20%? The other 80% gets dumped into landfills or the ocean. Third world countries have become the unasked for recipients of a lot of our unwanted stuff, to the point that they are choking on our castoffs. We continue to pollute our air, making more of things that most of us don’t truly need, spurred on by the need of companies to make bigger profits so the spiral of the economy can continue to enlarge.
For years, our personal Christmas celebration has been made tremendously better by the realization and agreement in our small circle that we all have enough. Please – no more ties, shirts, sweaters, novelties, kitchen doodads, Sharp catalog gizmos; choose a charity of your choice, and we will make a donation in your name. You can do the same for us. And for those rare occasions when an item gets worn out so that it needs to be replaced – our thrift stores are filled with barely used, high quality products, available at a fraction of their original price. Best of all, you’re not contributing to the killing of our planet, leaving it in better shape for our grandchildren. Give gifts of service such as doing someone’s chores, or gifts of your time such as taking children to a museum or play they otherwise might not get to see. This Christmas, your best gift may be less.