I have thought for many years now that Christmas is a bit weird. A large proportion of us are most certainly not religious, in any way, yet we still latch onto this holiday, waste our hard earned money on unwanted knickknacks for one another, just to donate most of it to a raffle in the coming months, sell it, or consign it to the loft forever more. Such a waste.
When you get to a certain age, you do not want for much, because you get things for yourself, as needed - it is part of being an adult. I for one, have no more room for unwanted gifts, and I also have run out of ideas for useful gifts for my loved ones. I started trying to buy 'experiences' instead - things to do together, buying quality time such as a Go Ape day with the little bro, or Ticketmaster vouchers for him and my step-dad. This however, still did not feel quite right, we should be spending quality time together anyway. I don't need a holiday I don't believe in to make me realise that.
So this year, I have decided to boycott Christmas. To some this may sound quite radical, but to me it feels completely natural. I am not a Christian, nor am I a Pagan (although I always thought that would be pretty cool). I have always believed that if you have a roof over your head, and food in your tummy, you are one of the luckiest people on earth. There are multitudes of people out there that do not have these things, and at Christmas time (although not exclusively), it is the less fortunate that should receive.
The commercialisation of Christmas is one of the biggest swindles of our time. The holiday is supposed to be about giving to those in need, and about cherishing what we have, more importantly who we have. This has all been tragically lost. As a Green Activist, I am a big advocate of the boycott; choosing where we spend our money is one of the most powerful things we still have control over, and if we choose to stop spending in certain ways at certain places at certain times, society will have to change. The sad fact is that money does rule the world, but it does not rule us, and we can choose how we spend it to change our societies for the better.
This is why this year I am doing things a little different, and am urging others to do the same. Instead of wasting money on toiletry sets that never get used, yet more socks, or an amount of sugary treats we shouldn't even consume in a year let alone a few days, I am asking people to give whatever money they were planning on spending on me to my chosen charity. In return, I am asking those who I would buy presents for which charity they would like me to donate to in their name.
I am choosing my local charity, the one I work alongside, and the one I volunteer for; Eastleigh Young Carers. The team at this place work tirelessly for young people who have parents, guardians, siblings, or other family member that need caring for. Having volunteered with them, I know the range of troubles these amazing young people face on top of the usual struggles of being teenagers or children. Despite what they are up against, and that many of them really do not have the chance to enjoy childhood in the ways most of us can, they really are the most inspirational, life affirming, individuals I have ever met. Unfortunately Eastleigh Young Carers have been subject to cuts too - and have recently received the news that they will no longer be receiving the £120k of Children in Need funding that has kept the project alive year on year. This has not deterred project staff, who have all been thinking of new ways to raise funds to keep supporting these vulnerable young people. With the money I raise through this Christmas appeal, I am hoping to put on a trip to provide our young carers with some respite.
In terms of charities I will be donating toward for my friends and family, so far I have had requests for Alzheimer's Society, NSPCC, and the MS Society. Everyone has been really excited by my idea, happy not to have to shop for more useless junk, and even more thrilled to be giving to something I really care about. So why not try it yourself?
If this story has struck a chord, please consider doing Christmas a little differently this festive season. If you are feeling particularly generous, and would like to help me on my quest, you can donate to my chosen charity here (make sure to leave a message saying it is for Kylie's Young Carers Christmas Appeal), or contact me for details to do a bank transfer.
Peace, love, and generosity - not only at Christmas.