The season of shopping frenzy is upon us, and malls and main streets are thick with avid consumers. There is the headache as well of choosing the most appropriate gifts, and at prices that will not leave you financially crippled until your salary comes at the end of January. Let’s admit that Christmas, far from being joyful, can be stress laden, and leave one with buyer’s remorse.
One alternative to the mall-hopping for the shoppers among us are the many markets that open around Christmas and there are three specific benefits that immediately come to mind, given economy and environment.
First, there is the whole ‘buy local’ impetus. Given that FOREX is an issue, and the economy is struggling, why not give our local entrepreneurs support? There is a plethora of local craftsmen, designers and creators some of whom use ingredients that are native to the island and an assortment of products are available from handmade bags and jewellery to organic skincare products, to artwork, and artisan food.
The organic goods are certainly more environmentally friendly than wasteful items that may be purchased. There is also the uniqueness and possible customisation that can occur, oases in the desert of store-bought mass production. Price ranges are another consideration, given the variety that abounds.
Another option for a gift that is kind to the environment is greenery: small house plants. Think inexpensive; think that they can clean the interior air of a home; and plants add not only beauty to décor, but can alleviate stress. Start your friends with a small herb garden—potted chives, rosemary plants, or Spanish thyme, that can enhance a countertop and of course, have practical use. Who doesn’t love the smell of Spanish thyme, too? Or if you are someone who loves plants, but know that they quietly scream when you approach because of your obvious lack of green thumbs, I have found that lucky bamboo is undemanding and pretty (Dracaena braunii). Lore has it that it does bring luck if gifted.
But really, the spirit of Christmas is not—or should not be—in gift-giving because of the pressures of the season. Many are going through deep financial constraints. Adults in families can safely forgo presents, giving priority to the children in their midst and even then, the presents do not have to be elaborate. It is a pity that demands are placed on Santa for presents that do not have protracted lives, stimulate little or turn children into technology-addicted zombies. Books, puzzles or activity sets in which parents can also participate may sound old-fashioned, but maybe society needs a slight return to some of the ‘old-fashioned’ ways of living. And finally, if you know a family where job loss has been experienced, look for a means of helping them through the season in a dignified and loving way. THAT more than any frivolous gift will truly reflect the spirit of the Season. Give joy! – SD