We associate Christmas with many positive things: time spent with the people we love, great gifts, time off, kindness and joy. But if you think about it, there is a negative side to Christmas too. And I want to talk about that.
Here are the not-so-great things about Christmas:
- We overeat and overdrink.
- We buy much more food than we need and we end up throwing some of it away.
- We often buy people things they do not need or like and that clutter their homes.
- We buy people gifts and then they feel the need to reciprocate by buying us gifts and then we need to do the same and so we keep buying each other stuff because we have to.
- Christmas time is not even about Jesus Christ anymore since almost no one remembers that the holiday is about him. We might as well start calling it “Giftmas”.
- Christmas is the holiday of consumerism. We spend a lot of time and money buying many gifts even though nobody needs them.
- We use a lot of wrapping paper, boxes and ribbons that cannot be recycled and just end up becoming piles of trash.
- We often end up feeling exhausted and stressed this time of year because we feel like we have to do so much just to keep up with everyone else.
- All these things we enjoy – the food, the presents, the traveling – have a negative impact on our planet.
- Christmas is also a time when inequalities become painfully obvious. Kids in rich countries receive cameras, cellphones and computers as other children starve to death.
However, I am not Grinch and I do not want to steal your Christmas. I just want to say that there is a much better way – enjoy the holiday season responsibly! How can you do that? Simply put: buy less stuff, give meaningful non-materialistic gifts and just be more mindful.
Here are some ways to make sure that your Christmas celebration has a much smaller negative impact and even makes this world a better place:
- Buy as much food as you need – not more. Do not go overboard with eating or drinking. It’s good for your health and the planet!
- If you end up with extra food, don’t throw it away! You can save some of it by freezing it. Or you can give it to friends and family. Even better – if you can, give it to a homeless person who needs it. If none of this works, you may give some of it to your pets or stray dogs. It’s still better than throwing it away!
- When buying someone a gift, be mindful. Limit the number of gifts (one per person is enough!) and money you spend. Try to buy people something they need or want.
- Aim for reusable wrapping/packaging. Gift bags can be saved and re-used next year! And there are many alternatives: using fabrics as wrappers, using boxes you can later re-use to store things and more.
- Give people non-material gifts! You can surprise your loved ones with many great options such as cinema tickets, vouchers, donations to NGOs or charities, adopting an animal for them and so on. Give them the gift of making a contribution to a better world! Read about a few great gift ideas here.
- Remember that no amount of money or gifts will ever buy someone’s love or bring them true happiness. So be mindful and spend quality time with the people you love.
- Try to make the time spent together meaningful. Listen to others, ask them how they are, support them, give them advice, offer your help, share something meaningful about yourself, talk to them about their dreams, their hopes, their plans. This is the best way to show someone you care!
- Aim for imperfect holidays! You didn’t have enough time to clean the windows? Don’t know how to bake great Christmas cookies? Did not decorate your home like the ones in a magazine? That’s great! Try to worry less about all these things that do not matter that much anyway. If you want to have a great holiday season, you need to take care of yourself first. Everything else is secondary.
- Remember that you are incredibly lucky while others aren’t. Since you are in a privileged position, use this to help others. Donate to charities, give away food or clothes or help someone in your neighborhood! There are many ways to do some good and it’s often incredibly easy and extremely rewarding!
I know that if you are the type of person who cares about society and the planet, you’ll think about this. If you want to grow and become better every year, this is a great way to do that.
Are you willing to change the way you celebrate Christmas and become a better person?