So our lovely neighbour gave us a cellophane bag of Christmas gingerbread that she and her daughter made. I’m eating it now as I write this to help me feel better about my pre-Christmas life, which if I put into words goes something like – “After you’ve finished working call the people about delivering Mum’s gift, then pick up that essential other bit that for some reason isn’t included in our son’s already expensive present and on the way back grab the kids from the end of year party and some eggs and don’t forget to return Thingy’s thing and swap it for the other thing that he wants...”
Every day for the next week there’s a daily to-do list that goes along these insanity-inducing lines. Yes, it’s all self-inflicted but how do you get out of it – how do we get off this ride? I have an arrangement with my mother-in-law where every Christmas she only gives me underpants. The simplicity and practicality brings us both great comfort and satisfaction. Next year could our family just give each other something like a plate afghan cookies or a nicely worn stick. Could we be happy with that?
Could we unplug Christmas, could we dial it down to a point where it’s okay to give a bowl of hummus or the offer to darn a loved one's favourite old jumper? Could simplicity save ourselves from ourselves. Could we lower expectations and raise appreciation? The gains to the community in mental health and social cohesion would more than offset the drop in retail spending - to say nothing of the reduction in Christmas shopping related carpark collisions. So maybe this year when somebody asks you what you want for Christmas give them and yourself a present and go for the gingerbread.