As I sit here googling ‘how to ask for no presents’, I stop and wonder how we got to this point. How is me having basically everything I need and not wanting (or trying not to indulge in) new things something I should be scared to tell people? I will spend the next half an hour carefully researching how best to word my request without seeming ‘ungrateful’, ‘rude’ or ‘judgey’.
I’ll be honest. The adverts and the frenzy have crept into my mindset recently, and I’m not yet strong enough to resist it completely. I have treated myself a few times and I have given my boyfriend and mum a couple of ideas of things I’d like. For me at least, it is inevitable that I will end up gaining a few possessions over this period, and I’m okay with that. At least this way (by asking for specific items) I know I’m going to use them.
The presents I’m not at all keen on are the ‘for the sake of it’ ones. And what I mean by that is the ones where the thought process has gone something along the lines of this…
I need to get them something… That’s cheap, that’ll do.
That present doesn’t look like enough on it’s own… I’ll pick up a few other little bits too.
These are the kinds of presents that I have no time for. They’re the novelty gifts, the mugs, the slipper socks, etc. I appreciate that they don’t break the bank and they make the recipient feel special because you did make some effort, but they’re also the first things that end up sitting in a drawer for years, going instantly (or eventually) to the charity shop, or if they are actually used they die an early death due to poor quality.
A few years ago I would’ve said ‘What’s the harm in these little gifts? Gifts just show you care, and it’s not the end of the world if you just donate it afterwards’. The crucial difference was that back then I didn’t think material things had value. I would cycle new clothes in and out of my wardrobe without a care because ‘it’s harmless’. I would put things in the bin and think they were ‘gone’ and ‘dealt with’. I would send something to a charity shop and go ‘I’ve done my bit’.
Since then I’ve learned that when you buy something cheap, the person who made it had to pay for it with their freedom and quality of life. When you throw something in to landfill, it causes health problems for the people that live nearby, and you contribute to the destruction of the planet and increasing natural disasters. I’m still not perfect, but I recognise that even apparently small decisions like this have an impact.
I know that getting every friend or family member a present that 1) they want 2) they’ll use 3) was made sweatshop free 4) is eco-friendly is just not possible. And that’s why I want to opt out of as many present-exchange (but mainly receiving) opportunities as I can.
HOWEVER! I also know that it’s not that easy to just say you don’t want anything. Sometimes that’s not enough. I will be posting in a few days about other alternatives, not to worry 🙂