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A Merry, Minimalist Christmas

How to enjoy the festive season without losing your mind to consumerism

Berries on a tree
Photography by Eddie Howell

I have been a practising Minimalist for six years, and I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. This isn’t to suggest I fell off some enlightened path to prosperity; Minimalism isn’t a destination to be reached, nor is it some one-size-fits-all philosophy. Still, my dedication to living a life free of the trappings of conspicuous consumption is continuously tempted by the latest gadget and at no time is this temptation as heightened as the festive period we’re entering.

Minimalists aren’t made of stone; we’re as susceptible to advertising like everyone else, and, at times, buying something can provide untold benefits to our life. For example, without having spent my money on a laptop, I could convey the thoughts I’m sharing with you now. By coincidence, I purchased this laptop around this time, three years ago. It was expensive, and I have no issue admitting that I winced when parting with my savings, but I don’t regret buying it; not for a minute!

For those who have only a surface level understanding of Minimalism, you’re probably reading this, thinking “what a hypocrite!” Just another millennial fighting against the economic system that has provided for him and he has benefited from all his life. You’d be wrong, however. The truth is, I love capitalism. No other economic system has enfranchised people to such an extent in all of human history. Sure, it’s not perfect, and over-consumption is a symptom of that. Few people with a knowledge of history would want to overthrow capitalism, but we should fight to bring change to an overwhelmingly beneficial system.

Christmas is a wonderful time to spend time with family and contribute to our fellow man, but, it’s also capitalism in its rawest form. Billions will be spent on meaningless tat that, despite the goodwill connected to the item, will soon find its way to the trash pile. I would make one small suggestion to anyone reading this; give with intention.

Instead of buying your loved one another piece of jewellery or an expensive watch that holds no more value than that of the maker, gift an experience. Go for a meal, spend time with those you love most and don’t allow superfluous stuff to create a divide between you and them.

Choosing a more intentional gift greases the wheel of capitalism, while cutting down on useless waste; something we can all agree is a positive thing. Sometimes things are created and provide bountiful utility to those who buy or receive them, but most don’t. Enjoy the festive season; eat, drink and be merry, for, on the 25th, we’ll yet again be at the mercy of pointless tat.

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