Christmas consumerism can get in the bin

Clare Rigden
Columnist

Ughh, anyone else HATE themselves for getting sucked into those Black Friday sales?

Heard of those nifty Hotwheels Total Turbo Takeover racing tracks? They come with loop-de-loop add ons! A slingshot! Something called ‘2-directional motorised boosters!’ A race car! Little mini ramps!

Nup?

Don’t stress – until last week I hadn’t either. And yet, there I was, on the cusp of the Black Friday sales, checking the Kmart online countdown clock like some kind of crazed mad woman to see how many days, hours, minutes, seconds I had left until I could part with $39 (plus postage and handling!) and make that Turbo Takeover (Ages 6 - 12!) car track mine.

Here’s the thing, though – I didn’t need it. I didn’t even want it. I could have happily lived my life without ever finding out how long it takes for a miniature Batmobile to get lodged in my five year-old’s miniature eye after it’s been flung out of a miniature slingshot (we all know this was something that was totally going to happen. And we all know it would have ended in tears).

My son didn’t know it exists. And he’d continue to not know-it-exists if I could stop myself clicking last Friday. But did I?

Nup.

And I’ll tell you why – I’ve been Christmas Conned.

I’ve been marketed to, sung at, advertised to, and badgered to within an inch of my already guilted-to-the-max mum brain to such an extent that I fully believed – like, TRULY, TRULY believed – that I simply couldn’t live with myself unless I purchased this toy for my son. Not just this toy - ALL toys. Every single marketing channel was yelling at me, making me feel I’d be a worse mum if I don’t get this, gift that, pop this on afterPay. I couldn’t stand the thought that there might be someone out there ‘out-mumming’ me on Christmas Day by giving THEIR son the gift of ‘2-directional motorised boosters.’

Urghh. What the hell is wrong with me?

Every year I tell myself not to get sucked into the rampant consumerism that’s become synonymous with Christmas. Every year I’m all like, ‘Don’t do it, Clare. It’s just useless stuff. Your kid won’t love you any less if he doesn’t get a boogie board AND a bike for Christmas.’ Truth is, he’d be happy with a Bluey book and some fluoro green slime. I keep thinking that THIS is the year I insist we no longer do presents; that we just pick a family member and do ONE Kris Kringle gift. Maybe THIS will be the year I’ll finally say no gifts for the adults, just a Christmas hug and a kiss will do – and maybe some ham and turkey and a purple-wrapped Quality Street? Honestly – that’ll do me fine.

But then – bam! November 12 rolls around, and it’s all like, ‘Ooh look! A miniature Snugglepot in a gumnut hat wrapping presents for a gumnut sleigh in the Myer windows!’ And before I know it, I’m all like, ‘Where does one buy a small gumnut hat? I must have one immediately! Give me all the gumnutty things! Ooh, and gift wrap them while you’re at it.’

The Melbourne city Myer shop windows are Snugglepot-themed this year. Photo: Myer

I hate myself for it. Black Friday rolls on by and I’m once again CONSUMED by the need to buy, buy, buy!

I’m madly clicking on Spam emails, purchasing scented drawer liners from Noni B (yes, they are a thing. And yes, they emit a delightful Lavender scent. And yes, my Mum is TOTALLY getting one for Christmas).

I’m on Snapfish making photo-blocks, creating cushions with my cat’s face on them – because, HELLO! As if you WOULDN’T want to lay your weary head on of THIS of an evening?

Clare's cat's face will make a perfect cushion. Photo: Supplied

I really wonder what I’m going to do about it all. What any of us are going to do about it all. Because slowly and surely, every Lavender-scented undie drawer liner; every bright orange turbo car set; every miniature tape measure/magnifying glass/flippy fortune fish thingie we find inside our crackers is slowly, and very surely, killing our planet. We’re DROWNING in stuff.

Honestly – we all need to take a good, long hard look at ourselves and seriously ask: what is the gap in my soul I’m trying to fill with this cat cushion?

So I’m going to propose this: instead of all jumping aboard the online bargain train in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we direct our clicks to far worthier causes. Those koalas up at Port Macquarie? They’re doing it pretty tough – fling them a coupla bucks, print out the receipt and pop it in Aunty Beryl’s card. Buy a goat in Sudan for your bogan brother. Find a local charity in your area and sign up to volunteer on Christmas day.

My brother-in-law Peter has the right idea – he vocally and smugly boycotts our family Christmas knees-up every year in favour of going along to the Perth City Mission’s annual Christmas lunch. He rolls up his sleeves, gets behind a bain-marie and dishes out turkey, ham and peas to the city’s homeless.

I get it though – kids want presents. It’s a joy to watch them unwrap something they really, really want on Christmas morning. All the warm fuzzies! Just maybe we all need to stop thinking that MORE is best; that one more gift will fill the void.

So yeah – if anyone needs me, I’ll be taking deep breaths and trying to abstain from any more needless consuming.

Ooh, wait! Black Monday’s now a thing…

HELP ME!

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