Kathryn Gray muses on how we can be more mindful with gifts this Advent, and not give in to the pressure to shop/consume/shop some more...
Advent is a time of waiting. It is meant to be slow and full of reflection, but most people find Advent becomes a high-speed train they can’t get off until January. Everyone wants the season to slow down but feels they can’t grab onto it long enough to take control.
What if we took a step to make Advent a slowed-down time of preparation? What if we refused to give in to the pressure to shop and consume and shop some more? Every day of Advent we could engage in a spiritual practice of turning from our usual habits and instead making gifts or finding gifts in second-hand shops, or really thinking about what our loved ones would value and what we have to offer them.
Aiden Enns, one of the founders of the "Buy Nothing Christmas" concept and former editor of Geez Magazine, says that having a Buy Less Christmas, “puts the focus on our consumer habits and seeks to align them with our principles.” For people like Aiden it is ironic that people of faith celebrate the coming of the Christ child by shopping madly, pouring money into a system that generates things nobody needs.
The concept of a Buy Less Christmas is daunting for many people because they worry they’ll be stuck making cheesy crafts. Check out the Advent Unwrapped Buy Less Shopping Guide for ideas for things you can do and buy that hopefully won’t have you crying in the aisle of the craft store: creating a photo album, taking your loved one to a show or café, assembling a care package.
Think of Buy Less Christmas as a spiritual practice getting you ready for the Christmas event. If you can shrug off some of the frenzy and return to the values of community and simplicity, you will find this Christmas to be rich and full of surprises!
—Kathryn Gray lives in Toronto and hopes her teenagers don’t secretly hate the things she knits them for Christmas.