Buy-nothing spirit gains holiday foothold

It’s that time again. The decorations
are up, the malls are packed and the spirit of the holiday season
dawns upon us.

But there’s something missing. Among the decorations, the
presents and the fighting for the last American Eagle sweater, people
seem to have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

So instead of falling into commercialism, some people have decided
to celebrate Christmas in their own way.

Kalle Lasn, editor-in-chief of Adbusters
magazine is also a part of Buy Nothing Christmas, an organization
that encourages people not to fall into the commercial trap of the
Christmas holiday and instead enjoy what the holiday is all about.

“We started out with Buy Nothing Day in 1992 which was one
day in the year, but we found that it wasn‘t enough, so seven
years later we created Buy Nothing Christmas,” Lasn said.

“Now it‘s celebrated in over 65 countries. It’s
certainly becoming more popular than that one-day consumer fast.”

Jeff Woo has spent many Christmases giving and receiving gifts.
As the seasons have come and gone he realized Christmas had become
meaningless to him.

‘There’s so much pressure to buy’

“I think in general that people are so materialistic they
lose sight of what’s important, like family,” Woo said.
“Christmas doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore.
It used to be important.”

“Some people end up not having a very good time at Christmas,”
Lasn said. “They spend time feeling alienated in the malls
… looking for something that doesn’t exist, and by January
their credit cards are maxed out.”

This holiday season, Woo contemplated not buying any presents for
his family, but felt they would be disappointed.

“There’s so much pressure to buy presents. There’s
family that is expecting something from you and if you don’t
get anything then they’ll think you don’t care,”
he said. “You get someone something nice and they tell you
that they love you, I think that’s so dysfunctional.”

Lasn said people should consider a gift because it’s meaningful:
“It’s not necessarily a buy-nothing Christmas, it’s
more like buy frugal and buy more carefully (Christmas).

“If you’re going to buy something buy something that
will make the world a better place. Spend your money wisely instead
of doing the same idiotic thing in the malls.”

To step away from materialistic presents and to avoid a disappointed
family, Woo is getting meaningful gifts for his family this year.

“If I had artistic abilities I would make something for my
family, you know, so it’s more meaningful,” Woo said.
“But since I’m not artistic, I’ll get them something
useful and meaningful not like money or a gift card.”

Rod Sheridan, a father of two, says he gives Christmas presents
every year, yet asks for nothing in return. “I already have
everything I want, so I tell my daughters to donate to any charity
of their choice” Sheridan said.

‘I won’t be a Scrooge’

During the Christmas season, Lasn says he likes to catch-up with
friends that he hasn‘t talked to in a long time. “I have
wonderful memories of Christmas. I get in touch with all the people
that matter to me … If they’re really young I get them
something really appropriate. I don’t believe in not giving
gifts to kids. I’m not going to be a Scrooge and not give it
to them,” Lasn said.

“But with my older friends I call them and we get together
during the holidays or go for a hike and tell each other what has
been going on through the year.”

Sheridan also says giving your time to people at Christmas is meaningful
as well. “It’s easy to donate your money, you can just
write a cheque to anyone and forget about it,” Sheridan said.
“But when you donate your time to a charity or with family,
it means a lot more.”

The spirit of Christmas may not fully be here anymore, but there
are a few out there who choose to celebrate in a more meaningful

“For the moment we’re lost. Most people don’t get
it. They don’t understand that consumption has consequences,”
Lasn said. “But I think we’re kind of at a tipping point
where more and more people are waking up to the consequences of
over consumption,” he said.

“I think Buy Nothing Day and Buy Nothing Christmas will become