There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to give your family a wonderful time at christmas. But where does the line get drawn? Should a line be drawn? Or should people spend and spend and spend until they have accumulated piles upon piles of crap, three quarters of which you can guarantee will have been broken and/or forgotten about by the end of January.
I was thinking about this the other day as the final gift had arrived in the post. It was a video game that I had pre-ordered a couple of months ago for my eldest rug rat. I got a nice surprise in the form of an email from Amazon telling me that they had refunded me some of the price as it was cheaper than quoted. It might only be pennies, but pennies certainly help!
I am a single mum to two kids. My boys are my world and I would crawl through fire to give them the best time that I can. I am disabled and cannot work, so my money is very tight. I scrimp and save all year round and I will start buying them things around August. They are both really sensible kids and they know that I don’t have much money. So they give me a list with one “definite” thing and some other, smaller things too. I make sure they get their one definite gift, and then if I can, I will get them some other things from the list as well. I’ll also get them some of their favourite chocolate to wrap up and put in their stockings.
I’m well aware that some people cannot afford to do that. Some people cannot even afford to eat. So every year, I will donate £5 to Shelter Scotland. I know it isn’t much, but it will at least go towards helping someone eat. Here is the link should you want to help them out too.
Please help Shelter Scotland!
I had to face the dreaded annual christmas food shop yesterday. Normally I do my food shopping online, but I need to shop at a particular place for christmas to help get the best value for money. It’s basically a frozen food store that sells some other bits and pieces too. It allows me to get a lot more food for the same price, so I can make sure my boys eat well at christmas.
There is a pound shop next door to it (similar to the Dollar Tree for my Amerucan readers) so I can pick up some extra little treats for very little money, which is a huge help, it really is.
Upon coming out of that shop, there was a homeless guy sitting there on the floor. He was thin and dirty and his clothes were threadbare and full of holes. He had the blankest look on his face I have ever seen. He looked so sad and full of dispair. It was heartbreaking to see. He had a polystyrene cup in front of him on the ground, and it had only a few pennies in. People were walking by and they just didn’t see him at all. They were so wrapped up in their raging consumerism, they didn’t want to see a reminder of how poor things can be for people.
I was almost in tears. I was panicking because of the crowds and just wanted to get back to the car. But I couldn’t just turn my back on this man. I sent my carer to get the blanket we keep in the boot of the car, so he could at least have something to keep him warm. I had no cash on me at all. I always use my debit card when shopping. I wanted to give him some money so badly. Then I had a brainwave. I gave him a two litre bottle of water and some crisps and biscuits and chocolates from our groceries. OK, it wasn’t ideal, but at least he had something to eat and drink. How could everyone just step on by and ignore him like that?
I thought about all the massive amounts of food that get wasted at this time of year. Not only the crazy excesses that people buy for their families, but also the waste that supermarkets create every year. We should all follow France’s lead and donate all that food to homeless shelters/food banks.
Then last night, I was browsing the news on the Internet and I came across a story that really got to me. A mother of three from the Isle of Man has spent over £1500 on gifts for her family. The pile is so huge that it obscures their christmas tree! Now a part of me thinks that she saves hard to buy those gifts and she has a right to buy whatever the hell she likes for her own family. Then my mind sees that poor man sitting on the floor with his soulless eyes. The man who cried at being given a bottle of water and some crisps. I can’t accept that level of consumerism as being ok when people like him suffer on the streets at christmas.
You can read Emma Tapping’s story here and judge for yourselves.
Consumerism gone too far.
I will always do my best to make my kids happy at christmas. But I will also try my hardest to show them that while it’s ok to have a good time, they must also think of and help those who cannot afford to be caught in the consumerist trap.