Let’s get back to the true meaning of Christmas


Writer Kylie Barton plans to celebrate Christmas consciously this year, here’s her tips.

Every year we read about how we have become detached from the real meaning of Christmas, and the hypocrisy of atheists celebrating a religious holiday. What we do not see so often is on offering of useful tips to help us get some of the goodness back in a time of excessive meaningless consumerism and advert bombardment.

Personally this year I have chosen to forgo the festivities and boycott Christmas; in particular the present giving.

Instead I have asked for my loved ones to donate to the charity I volunteer for; Eastleigh Young Carers. In return I am asking for their charity of choice, and making a donation in their name. I realise this could be a little extreme for some to consider, and so there are other options which will see you inject a bit of kindness, appreciation, and wholesomeness back into the holiday.

Buy meaningful presents
Something that will ensure people espouse the true values of Christmas could be a really meaningful present. Something like a subscription to Ethical Consumer, for instance, which will teach people how to shop better all year round. You may also want to check out Ethical Shop by New Internationalist which have an array of meaningful, ethical, beautiful gifts on offer. Do not buy people things that will get thrown, sold, or given away such as toiletry sets, knickknacks, or clothes they might not like.

Shop in independent stores
Boycott the big brands and the chain stores, even if just for Christmas. When you shop with multinational corporations, a very limited percentage of your pound goes back into the local economy. It is bad for high street diversity and for local people. By choosing to shop local, and buying from independents, more from every pound you spend will re-enter the local economy – benefitting all those around you. This is a good one to try and keep up year-round.

Be neighbourly
The holidays can be a very lonely and isolating time for some. At Christmas, we should all be thinking about the happiness and wellbeing of others and trying to make a positive difference in our communities. Keep an eye out for elderly neighbours who may be alone, or others who for whatever reason lack an extended family. Be kind, and open your doors to those in need. There is no better gift than the feeling that comes from giving.

It’s not about the money
Christmas shouldn’t be about how much you spend, but how you spend your time and who you spend it with. We all know that our busy lives sadly get in the way of our personal relationships, and to show true appreciation of the people in our world we shouldn’t be concerned with spending the right amount on each person – monetary value does not translate into the value of a relationship.

Why not bake cakes, make jam, some cheeky slow gin, or home made treats. Perhaps create some artwork if you are more artistically inclined, or bring back the digital equivalent of the trusty old mixed-tape. Give something money can’t buy.

Go out of your way to see those you usually don’t
At Christmas we try to see all the family members we can’t stand to be around for the rest of the year. But we must also go out of our way to see our ‘extended’ family. By that I mean the friend who moved up north that you haven’t got around to seeing yet, or someone from university you have lost touch with. The holidays are a great time for reaching back out to those who life has made you forget – because people aren’t going to bemoan the fact you have failed to be in contact for any period of time before.

It is sad that we need holidays to remind ourselves that we should be nice to one another, follow these points as a start and try to continue such practices all year round. This should be our default setting, not one prompted by profiteering companies looking to make a fast buck on our guilt for not radiating love and positivity the whole year around.

How we spend our money is one of our most powerful assets in this world, and if we choose to spend it in less conventional ways, on things that have meaning, and make a positive difference, the world really will be a better place, even if that only is for Christmas.

Kylie Barton writes about social issues, sustainability and welfare, and also ran in the previous election as a local Green Party candidate.