December 15, 2017

Rise Above Consumemas

Creating art from found natural objects can be a meaningful new Winter Solstice ritual that costs nothing.

Is there any Christmas left in Christmas? It is more like Consumemas now. It is all about the presents, the loot, the haul, the stuff. Shopping, wrapping, unwrapping, throwing away - same futile cycle with the same futile results. Within a few days all that remains is the debt and damage. 

It is no wonder many people find this madness to be depressing and demoralizing. But we can rise above Consumemas, and reclaim this special time of year for our own. It truly is an event worth celebrating, as humans have for millennia, before Christmas, or Consumemas, ever existed.

And while gift giving may be involved, it does not have to be all about the gifts. Indeed, gifts are not a required part of enjoying this time of year. While the social pressures are great, many are breaking free from the burden of mandatory (and often mindless) gift giving. 

Those with experience have found that involving a group of people in the discussion surrounding radically changing winter celebration traditions can be fruitful and liberating. Often they find that they aren't the only ones wondering how they can stop others from buying them things they don't want, or need. 

I got the following email reminder from Adbusters concerning #BuyNothingXmas:

"The malls are full of anxious sweat. The throngs are out and about for the final shopping "rush", hunting the aisles with a tense urgency that's inimical to the spirit of giving. But another Christmas is possible. Another way of being is possible. 
Reclaiming the ritual of this magical season – consciously and deliberately – is a radical, emancipatory choice. Since manufacturing and consumption are responsible for more than half of the global carbon dioxide emissions, choosing to buy nothing this Xmas may give Gaia some much needed relief. 
And if you still need to be convinced to consume less – consider that if we heat up just 4 degrees more, we will witness a total and irreversible collapse of human civilization. We're killing ourselves – but even as the denial about global warming is slowly breaking over us, we still choose – sheeplike – to join the madness in the malls. 
Consumerism is the opiate of the masses. Without significant rituals, we clamour to participate in the only ones we have, like the Christmas shopping binge, driven by our desire for meaning – of which our culture is devoid. 
#BuyNothingXmas gets to the heart of this matter. 
As the much awaited solstice arrives and Christmas nears, can you find the strength to break the addiction, to wake up from the nightmare ... will you be brave enough to plant the seed of a new way of being? Make your life a demonstration, a defiance, a piece of art, a heroic journey. 
Start this Christmas – dare to gather your friends and family together and vow to do it differently this year."

There are many meaningful ways to celebrate at this time of year. Conspicuous consumption does not have to be one of them.

“Creating a new tradition that brings more peace and heart to your holidays could also bring you closer to family and friends. 
Sharing a ritual founded on love of nature, on respect for the always renewing cycles of life, and on faith in the future has a way of bringing out the best in people.”

- Deena Wade


  1. Anonymous12/16/2017

    Just found out that there is a parkrun on Christmas day. So it will be a refreshing 5k for me then a low key day.

    1. Alex,

      That sounds wonderful. Happy Solstice to you.

    2. Anonymous12/16/2017

      Hi Alex,
      When I could run (my hips can't take it anymore) I would do the First Run in the Portland Oregon area - it was a run that started at midnight on 12/31. It was a good way to begin the new year on a positive note. This Christmas we'll spend with my boyfriends family, but before we go there for dinner, we'll spend time wandering the local parks looking at the wintering birds - the best way to start a day in my opinion.
      Have a great run! -- Mary

    3. My running club do a run on Christmas Day, so that’s how we will be starting the day. We’ll also be going for a walk later on, so plenty of time will be spent outdoors!

    4. Anonymous12/17/2017

      Thanks Gregg and happy solstice to you too.
      Hi Mary, sounds like you have a nice day planned. Shame about your hips.
      Hi Nicola, it's great that these runs are organised. I think there's
      also going be one on new year's day.

  2. "Plant the seed of a new way of being." Yes. My new way of being is calmer. I am pursuing some new things and enjoying their fruits. Better care of self. More mindful. More nature. Returning to the wilder part of my being. I've found some new teachers. Your recent posts about the solstice have given focus to the change of season and natural things. I like winter a lot.

    1. Terri,

      That is a nice list of good things. Including winter. Some people have a hard time with this, but I love winter too. Many Canadians spend one or two weeks down south, and the rest of the winter complaining they aren't somewhere down south. Not me.

      I love the challenge of winter. It does require us to focus, assess the year past, and start to imagine what you want the coming year to look like for yourself and the world. The most introspective of seasons. Plus all that mindfulness and focus keeps one warm.

  3. Anonymous12/16/2017

    I had never thought of using winter as a meditative and restorative time. But the last few posts on this blog and the comments of others have got me thinking of ways to do just that. And the picture on this blog post really got me excited to create my own ceremony to welcome the winter solstice and then carry that welcoming and open feeling into the winter. Thank you! It's a new way of thinking for me and I look forward to celebrating the winter instead of dreading it. Appreciate all of you here, -- Mary

    1. Mary,

      New rituals and alternatives are welcome here, and much needed on this little planet of ours. I find it very exciting to allow ourselves to expand beyond conventional ways of doing things, and really let our hearts guide what we do. My heart has never told me to go shopping for things I don't need. But it has lead me into the wilderness to connect deeply with Nature.

      Greeting winter with a "welcoming and open feeling" makes it so much more enjoyable. And I find that a deep winter makes the arrival of spring a truly miraculous event. Happy winter adventures.

    2. Mary, I loved hearing this. I feel the same way, the last few posts Gregg's done about winter solstice and some reading I've done has got me into focusing on the solstice. It's been very meaningful for me too.

  4. Anonymous12/18/2017

    Gratitude Alert: I will spend this solstice with dear friends at their annual Women's Winter Solstice Celebration. We sing, share, laugh, enjoy good food and wine, dance under the stars (and some skinny dip!). I can't think of a better way to say "welcome" to winter, a most beautiful season.
    Yes, winter is about calm, quiet, and going within. Traditional Chinese Medicine has much wisdom to share on the topic. And my ancestors, the ancient Celts, also had a thing or two to share with us about jubilantly celebrating the every-faithful cycling of the seasons. Light waxes and wanes. You can count on it, like a true friend.
    The pause that winter offers us is full of opportunity for renewal and inward growth. If we choose it. This time is sorely needed by all humans, but especially for the habitually busy and maddeningly consumeristic (isn't that 90% of the Western world?!).
    I am so happy to be a part of this community, where we've left that silliness behind us. I'll think of you guys as I light candles and enjoy more reading time as the temperature drops. Word is we'll have a chilly Christmas in Texas! Peace to all.


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