For a number of years now I have been more and more concerned by consumerism and the way it has been sucking me in. The idea that what I own or am able to buy somehow gives meaning and purpose to my life and adds value to me as an individual is one that we are encouraged by the advertising all around us to see as the norm and, in a rare moment of lucidity I realised I didn't agree. It all started a number of years ago when, on one of my all time favourite shows, Dharma & Greg, Dharma was having a declutter and when asked why she replied 'because if you own too much stuff pretty soon it starts owning you.'. The more I thought about that the more true it seemed, not that it really did anything to curb my buying stuff, after all I didn't buy nearly as much stuff as other people did I so it wasn't really my problem was it?
However this December we had some big, unexpected outlays. The car needed a new clutch and gearbox, which decided to break two days before we were due to drive to Scotland meaning we also needed to rent a car for 10 days. When we got back from our holiday the wooden stairs from our kitchen down to our garden gave up the ghost and became too dangerous to stand on meaning we had to pay to get them fixed then we had a very large, unexpected bill we had to pay. All this before we'd started buying Christmas presents for our large and extended family and friends.
Now, as many of you will know, I have amazing friends and we all decided that we would 'charity shop' and 'second-hand' for pressies because it is, after all, the thought that counts. We had a fantastic time finding wonderful, perfect little bargains which brought such joy both for me when I found them and to the recipients when I gave them so why then, I wondered, did I feel like I was somehow cheating on my presents?
I did a bit of soul-searching and realised that I really did believe the monetary cost of a gift said something about its value. That shocked me. I would never have said I bought into consumerism but here I was waist deep. Something had to be done. I needed a break and to re-evaluate why I buy gifts, which I love doing. I came up with a radical solution. My new years resolutions. Normally I don't make resolutions just because I don't really see why Jan 1st is any different to any other new day but this year I decided to challenge myself. So I have three new years resolutions.
1. No new clothes. I am only allowed to buy second-hand or make them myself.
2. Nothing new for the house. Again I'm only allowed to buy second-hand or go skip-diving etc
3. (And this is the toughie) I am not allowed to buy anything new to give to people as presents, they need to be pre-owned, hand-made or (because I want my friends to still be my friends at the end of the year) I am allowed to make a donation to charity on their behalf if that is what they prefer.
We're only 14 days in but I do have two good friends' birthdays coming up at the very start of February and I've already got their gifts within my new limits so I'm feeling pretty good about it all so far. Will keep you all informed of how it goes through-out the year.
PS I have now found the spell-check but lost my glasses so the spelling should be ok but as this all looks like a grey blur to me I'm sorry for all the extra spaces etc.