Now don’t get me wrong I am no kill-joy, I’m up for any excuse to break out some champers and hang with friends!
However every year as the silly season kicks in I become more annoyed at the hypocrisy of what we call Christmas. For many people it’s not about celebrating the birthday of an enlightened being (in fact, Jesus’ birthday was in the Spring according to plenty of evidence), but over-consuming, over-spending, damaging the environment and spoiling already spoilt kids…and it really gets my goat!
So in order to have a more mindful silly season, consider some of these sobering facts:
Buying presents for people who don’t want them
- Each year Australians alone spend over $1b on unwanted gifts that will eventually end up in landfill1. Pollies encourage us to spend! Spend! to boost the economy, and yet our beautiful blue planet bears the cost.
- Rubbish volumes rise by 30% at this time of year (packaging, wrapping paper, plastic and Styrofoam).2
- A lot of gifts require batteries – each year 8000 tonnes of used batteries are incorrectly disposed – thrown into bins instead of recycled. This could cause large scale environmental issues in the future as toxic chemicals leach out into our soil.
And if the environmental impact isn’t enough to get your goatee beard a bristling, think about how much money we waste. For many, it’s money they don’t have.
- Australians will spend between $500-$1000 on gifts at Christmas3 and when you add the extra food (the obligatory ham, mince pies and alcohol), holidays or hitting the retail ‘sales’ on Boxing Day – it’s possibly 4 times that!
- 91% of Australians who put all this on credit card will take 3-6 months to pay it off4
And yet money doesn’t make you happy…nor do the gifts bought with it! Otherwise our society wouldn’t be crippled with mental illness & depression…
Christmas isn’t even Christ-mass
- Jesus the holy man and prophet preached humility, forbearance, sweetness & frugality5, and yet we celebrate his supposed birthday with an orgy of spending, eating and drinking!
- Some people still promote the mythological arrival on a roof of a German fat man in a red suit, in sleigh pulled by reindeers, one of whom has a red nose (presumably from drinking too much)..what on earth this has to do with the holy man, my guess is as good as yours
- Some people decorate their houses with evergreen trees, holly, mistletoe – which have absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. In fact blame the Pagans! According to a noted historian6, Pagan’s worshipped the birth of the sun god on 25 December – led by the Romans! What have the Romans ever done for us?7 Apart from the aqueduct, sanitation, the medicine, the roads, public baths, the wine….
Now add Christmas to the list!
And let’s not forget the overindulging! The silly season encourages binge drinking, drunk driving and overeating in an already chronically obese society. 67% of Australians are overweight8 (and I count myself in this category) and yet the shops are screaming ‘eat me’ with shelves stocked to the brim with sugary tempters.
Some people say Christmas is all about family. And yet many people have lost family members and watching everyone else having a (supposedly) wonderful time with theirs can cause stress, grief and depression. There are also lots of people with no family here – or they have family they wish to avoid! I know from first-hand experience – when I first arrived in Australia I knew almost no-one, and spent quite a few Christmas days with me and my cat, wishing the day away.
The only purchase I’ve made this Christmas is 5 goats from the Oxfam Unwrapped program for my amazing team members. For an incredible $39 each, a goat for someone living in Mozambique can provide manure for growing food and can be sold to pay for school fees or tools. The e-cards are even better, no paper and no printing, just pure goat. Whatever your leaning or budget, there’s goats, chickens (a bargain at $10), veggie garden ($52), and clean water for a school ($98). If you’d like to get your own goat, go to https://unwrapped.oxfam.org.au/
For me personally, Christmas is an opportunity to slow down, unplug from technology, get close to nature and put my fractured self back together again. It’s about hanging with dear friends and my adopted family, making a contribution, feeding my ducks, being grateful for living in a wonderful country where we can speak our mind without retribution, where clean water is at our fingertips and where a woman can fulfil her dreams.
What’s Christmas to you? What gets your goat?
Blog over and out! Hailey
1 Galaxy Research / ProBono news 12 December 2015
2 Australian Ethical & Veolia environmental specialists
3 Australian Ethical / The Project Channel 10 27 Nov 2015 / Commonwealth Bank
4 Creditcardfinder.com.au / Roy Morgan
5 The bible
6 Gerard and Patricia Del Re
7 Monty Python, The Life of Brian