I hate Christmas in America. There I said it. As a kid Christmas was filled with wonder and joy. I got to spend time with family and friends, eat delicious holiday meals and open up boxes under the Christmas tree. I recognize the privilege I had to not worry about where my meals were coming from and I always could expect some kind of gift under our Christmas Tree. I saw my parents work so very hard every day to provide their children with a stable and loving home. I know many, many people do not have the same luxury and it breaks my heart. I am thankful for the memories of Christmas’ past and the joy I had spending time with my family and some of the amazing gifts I received over the years.
And yet, as an adult I am unable to hold onto the same fond feelings about Christmas. Not because my family has ruined the holiday, but because the world has ruined what I used to hold near and dear to my heart around Christmas. As I pay more attention to world events and those around me, I have come to recognize the corruption in the holiday season.
Mass Consumption and Massive Wait Times
As a business owner myself, I understand the pressure to produce massive amounts of product to keep up with holiday shopping demand. I appreciate the fact that I can rely on the holiday season to keep my business running. And yet, I find it extremely exhausting to run around like crazy, manufacturing and traveling for two-three months straight in order to sell products.
As we are seeing in current events, the international supply chain can’t keep up with the amount of products we have been purchasing. From worker and supply shortages, to Covid impacting every industry around the globe, the items we are wanting to purchase are stuck overseas or waiting to be delivered to ports around the country.
According to the New York Times, companies such as Walmart and Apple get the first dibs on shipping containers overseas, forcing smaller businesses to wait in line for a container to ship their products overseas. With the shipping container shortage, it means that small businesses may struggle to get their products onto the shelves and into the hands of their customers. This means while Walmart and Apple and other large companies continue to profit from our spending habits, smaller businesses don’t get as much piece of the pie.
While big businesses will most likely have the resources to keep up with the surge in product demand, small businesses do not have nearly the capital or workforce to keep up. Coupling big business’ priority over the supply chain, better margins and broader access to employees, smaller businesses could lose out this holiday season.
Of The People...For The People
In order to handle the overwhelming amount of products coming into the USA this holiday season, ports are having to stay open around the clock. Considering there is a national worker shortage as a result of Covid, the people who are able and willing to work are expected to work longer hours. So while you may be enjoying the ease of clicking “Buy Now” on Amazon, workers in our ports get to spend less time with their families this holiday season in order to make sure that shiny new gift (that will probably be forgotten or broken in a year's time) gets under the tree in time.
Not only are people around the globe being overworked in order for you to have that item, the environment is becoming more and more burdened by our waste from last year’s gifts, plastic gift packaging, not to mention the amount of gas that is being burned to get our products shipped overseas.
Due to all of the above, prices are continuing to increase. This means the people who have the luxury of expendable income will still be able to give their families a good ol’ Christmas, while possibly feeling the burn in their pocket a bit more, whereas families in poverty may not be able to give their families anything.
Spread The Wealth...With Intentionality
I know I am being a “Debbie Downer” but the reality of Christmas is that it is also the time of year when people lean heavily into mindless spending, and seem to have a lack of awareness and care about where our products are coming from. A time of year meant to be focussed on thoughtfulness and reflection can quickly turn into mindless spending when we are not practicing being conscious consumers.
Speaking of, I am a huge advocate for being a conscious consumer and choosing to support local businesses that do not outsource their product manufacturing overseas.
According to CNBC, as a result of Covid, people are now spending far less money on services and more money on products to fill their homes. This is another reason why there is a burden on the supply chain and shipping, since we are purchasing more products and less services. This has negatively impacted our service based industries as well such as restaurants, theaters, spas, etc. since people are still fearful to leave their homes.
Happy Holidays Afterall?
The good news in all this is you. As a consumer who has a say in how our economy functions, YOU have the choice on where you spend your money this holiday season. You can choose to purchase items at a whim or out of expectation that there should be gifts under that beautifully lit tree, or you can choose to spend your money with more intentionality, supporting local businesses and makers who care about YOU and how their products are being manufactured.
For many, I’m sure this would be a stretch, but I challenge you to get involved in being the solution to supply chain issues and, in turn, to keep the novelty of the Holiday season! Instead of buying lots of gifts for people during times of obligation, we can CHOOSE to buy people gifts all year round and spread our gift giving budget out. This doesn’t mean you have to “Stop Christmas!” or “Ba Humbug!” it up, but can incorporate giving gifts more throughout the year, and less at one time! This shows that you are thinking about that person and choosing to get them something that is unique to them, not buying something out of obligation or to check a box.
My favorite gifts have been ones that were randomly given to me throughout the year. My mom often does this. She will write me a sweet card and give me a small gift or two as a “I’m thinking and praying for you.” It leaves so much more of an impact for me and makes me feel more connected to my mom when she decides to give me something because she thought of me in her day to day life.
Take Back What The Holidays Really Mean
Switching our mindset from expecting to give or receive gifts on one day of the year, to a more thoughtful and more regular gift giving throughout the year, we can reduce strain on manufacturers, the environment and others. Ultimately, this will also assist families who can afford less during Christmas to still be able to participate without feeling as much strain and stress due to lowered prices and demand!
I still love that Christmas and the holiday season is a common time where we have time off of work to spend it with our families and friends. I appreciate the cool weather and warmth around the fire with those who are the most important part of our lives. Plus, we have the chance to reflect on the year and look forward to the upcoming year.
We can still hold onto the beauty of the holiday season without the stress and obligation of buying gifts for everyone in the always expanding family and friend community we have. We can choose to be intentional with our spending habits by supporting amazing local businesses this holiday season, and year round.
Happy Holidays Friends!
Always with Love,
New York Times: