minimalism

Bah Hum Bug.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. I love Christmas. I enjoy the trees, the twinkling lights, the decorations, the softly fallen snow, delicious smells, pumpkin pies, the family get-togethers, the general good cheer in the air, Christmas carols,  and yes, even the festivities at shopping centers (when I’m not cranky because of the crowds).

I strongly dislike the purchases of mass-produced products for end-of-the-year holidays, especially on a ridiculous day such as today (Black Friday), that are wrapped up with fancy paper that ends up in the trash while the ‘gift’ often ends up in the back of the closet, donated, unused, what-have-you. There are so many things wrong with today.

1) Store hours of operations. Millions of stores all over the country open earlier and earlier every year (some stay open overnight). The main thing that really bothers me about these hours are the employees who are forced to leave their Thanksgiving festivities early so they can go home and rest in order to get up at 1:30am to go to work in a retail store. Some of these employees don’t even rest at all! Barely awake, these employees have to deal with greedy customers all day instead of getting the rest they need. The same goes for the shoppers – they rush from their Thanksgiving dinners so they can stand in line in the cold in the middle of the night.

2) Tons of debt. Millions of shoppers rack up their credit card bills with purchases from this time of year that leaves them broke in January with a resolution to save more money. Note the irony.

3) You don’t need that $299 flat screen television. You have a television. Your friends and family have televisions. They all work fine. You don’t need that ‘cheap’ television in the store that goes to the first ten buyers. If Black Friday didn’t exist, you wouldn’t get the television and you’d be just fine without it. Don’t pay attention to advertisements. They’re just trying to trick you into thinking you need something ‘bigger and better’ to ‘keep up’ with ‘everyone else.’

4) If you really need that item, I bet you can a get better deal somewhere else. If you have convinced yourself that you really need that item you have your heart set on (even though I would convince you otherwise), chances are that you can find it for a really good deal elsewhere on another day when people aren’t shopping that much (especially online). Don’t grab up the first thing you see. Shop around casually. Wait a few days and ask yourself if you still want/need that item. Go for high quality items. That brings me to…

5) They’re cheap because they’re cheap. That electronic you want today and saw a great advertisement for in the paper? It’s cheap because it’s cheap quality and probably the most basic model of whatever it is. It won’t last and will end up costing you more than you want after you pay off your credit card and pay for replacements. Is that what you want?

6) It will end up thrown away and/or unforgotten. Years from now, even months from now, people won’t remember what you bought them. Can you remember everything people purchased for you in the past ten years? Nope. Did you value these purchases? Probably not. What you remember the most as time goes by is not the items you have accumulated over the years, but the experiences and feelings you had when spending time with loved ones, doing a fun activity, and creating traditions. Jumping in the snow and baking cookies will give you more smiles and fuzzy feelings than opening tons of gifts and figuring out what to do with them!

7) Stress. Have you ever noticed lately that during the holiday seasons you are forced to participate in Secret Santa traditions, rushing about to find the perfect gifts, pressured to create a beautiful home, attending dinners here and there, receiving so many things you don’t need, overbooked, and ultimately, stressed, broke, and not that happy? Yeah. Time to change that.

Think about what someone might really want. Be creative.

This isn’t to say never buy anything again. Just think before you buy.

Support local business, go for handmade, don’t buy ‘MADE IN CHINA.”

If all else fails and you really need to buy something, get a bottle of wine.

I feel so relieved for opting out of purchases gifts this season (and I hope, for the rest of the holiday seasons in my life). Aside from what I just wrote, I also I stumbled upon quite a few blog posts over the past couple weeks that really elaborate on exactly how I feel about this holiday season in regards to gifts, consumerism, making the decision not to buy gifts, and dealing with others who disagree with that decision. Instead of regurgitating what others have written, I leave you with some links.

Looking for ways to save money but still have a memorable Christmas? Take a look at Everett Bogue’s post on 1 Simple Strategy to Save $2,000 this Holiday and make Everyone Love You Forever and Courtney Carver’s No Credit Cards – No Matter What. Do you have children and don’t want to take away the ‘magic of Christmas’? Read Minimalism With Kids: Christmas Edition by Dusti Arab, a minimalist and inspiring young mother. Have concerns about donations and monetary requirements over the holidays? Maybe Your Top Holiday Money Questions Answered by Melissa Gorzlanczyk will give you some ideas on how to opt out or reduce spending. Want more? She also has a guest post on Be More With Less with 5 Ways to Have a Rich Christmas Without Spending More. Finally, check out The Anti-Minimalist Day by David Damron.

[Edit: Read The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents over at Zen Habits. The post was written a few days after I wrote this, and expands much more on the same aspects of anti-buying-gifts that I covered, plus more.]

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6 thoughts on “Bah Hum Bug.

  1. I remember that you did not have a computer of your own, so I gifted you my old computer one Christmas. Within a month of use, I remember hearing the machine was broken and _thrown away_ like it is scrap metal just taking up space. Broke my heart. Once in a while when I think about e-Waste, this is the very story that motivates me to speak out against throwing electronics into a bin everyone assumes will be magically sorted and recycled by the elves. Happy Holidays

  2. Rob, I have always appreciated that computer! 🙂 I’m afraid my memory is different than yours. I don’t remember that computer breaking and being tossed out at all. In fact, that computer has stuck with me ever since, even through college! And although I use my laptop now, I still have that computer tower sitting in this apartment in case I ever need it again – it still works. I will have to check on this with my parents to see if they remember.

  3. oh man, do i hate black friday. for all of these reasons! i did go out and break my four year streak of not participating to get a $2 crockpot for myself and a couple of friends for christmas… :- but it was at midnight…not 4am or something crazy. great post 🙂

  4. Crock pots are great because you can cook a lot of different meals in just one pot! I don’t blame you for getting that deal. And although you broke your streak – at least you managed to go four years without participating! 🙂

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