The image above reminds me of Christmas in Australia. I have always associated Christmas with summer, with the coast, ocean and sea, with spending time with family at special places in our beloved Oz. It's funny, we are constantly bombarded with images of Christmas that have snow flakes, snow men, pine trees, reindeer and all the things that the northern hemisphere associates with Christmas, and to be honest I don't think many of us think much of it, we still think "Christmas" when we see it. We don't connect! Well I'm glad I'm not there!
For most of us in the southern land of Oz which we all love, Christmas is about summer, it's about spending time with family and friends, mending connections, forming new connections and becoming closer to those around us. It's about getting some sun shine and beach in the morning followed by a fantastic communal lunch (dare I say it- "and over eating"), followed by a nap with multiple members of the family all snoring loudly from different corners of the house at the same time, then a relaxed walk, a quiet beer and left overs in the evening. Well that is Christmas Day to me, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Christmas is also a time for giving, and society seems to have taken this to the extreme and now considers it about gifts of monetary value. But I don't think that isn't what it is about at all! It may be surprising to hear me say that since I'm a retailer, but the truth is the truth! Christmas is a time for giving to others that may be more miss-fortuned than ourselves. It is a time for trying to help others along their path (or incremental step) to a "better life", whatever that may mean for them, society, the environment or and all of it as a whole. It's a time to try help educate and lead family and friends on that path to a better life for all beings on this Earth. To help all of us to try to find the balance that we need to in order to find a sustainable and livable future. That's what we all need whether people realise it or not, and is what we should all be pushing for and educating others about continually.
So I urge all of you to be leaders this Christmas. If you think climate action is important then say so. If you think animal welfare is important then say so. If you think that living a toxin free life is important then say so. If you think the economy rules over all (dare I say it) then say so. But say so through your actions and purchasing decisions and not just your words.
I know society at present dictates that we need to give gifts at Christmas. But before running out to the $2 shop and buying things for people that they really don’t need consider this:
Experience trumps object
Wow, I'm not sure that the word "Trumps" is appropriate anymore in this context, maybe it's definition will be changed soon. Do you remember a gift that you received ten years ago that probably came from the $2 store, or that thing you were given that you never used, no mater how good quality it was, you just didn't need it. Much of this stuff you don't use or even remember that you have until moving house and then you need to work out what to do with it. (For all my relatives: I have enough salad bowls now!!!!)
A number of years ago I gave my nephews a Rock Climbing course in the Blue Mountains and their father, my father and myself all went along and participated. What a great experience, we went rock climbing, canyoning, bush walking and then swimming in a natural river with rocky jump offs and cliffs to climb without ropes. We all have a real world experience to remember and what an awesome gift for young people to try to get them engaged with the outdoors and away from their electronic world.
There are probably people more needy
Let's face it, for many of our members and readers, the people that we may be buying gifts for live relatively comfortably in Australian society. If you ask someone: "What would you like for Christmas?", and they answer "not sure really", "I don't know", "you choose", or "nothing really", then F it, give the amount you would have spent on their gift to charity and give them the tax receipt as a gift. Personally I would prefer money to go to a good cause than to be spent on something I put in the cupboard for two years, then pull out just to throw away or sell.
Let them choose
Letting the recipient choose their own gift makes sure that they get something that they appreciate, value and use, and thus helps avoid waste. So get your loved one, friend or colleague a gift voucher to a store that they may frequent or that maybe you think they should frequent. Much less wastage this way.
Help connect with others
In the modern Australian world it is sometimes hard to find groups and services that connect with us individually, that are really aligned with what we are looking for and aligned with our personal philosophies and beliefs. I think it's as bit strange given the amount of services and groups available through social media, the power of modern day web search engines and the general availability of services, that it can still be hard to find the right groups and organisations to connect with.
So help your gift recipient connect with groups that you truly believe that they will enjoy.