Am I the only one who feels kinda shitty after the holidays? Every Christmas, after I’ve snuck sufficient glasses of wine from the kitchen while extended family members call out questions about hot topics such as my education (haven’t dropped out yet… surprising, Aunt Linda, I know) and relationship (or lack thereof), I find myself staring at the wrapping paper carnage scattered across my living room carpet. At this moment, I feel something akin to the feeling you get when you wake up the night after going out to find yourself on the couch next to the half-eaten carcass of a medium Dominos pizza: did I really do this? The answer is yes, you sweet, foolish thing. You made this mess of empty boxes and clothing tags with the prices crossed out in Sharpie, even if you really don’t want to acknowledge it.
And then, as I venture to some dive bar with my friends on New Years Eve wearing my swanky new dress from American Apparel that probably cost my mom at least $80, I realize why I really, really wanted to forget about the exorbitant amount of money that I and my family spent this Christmas — because I used the holidays as an excuse to uninhibitedly throw myself into materialism. I relished the sweet, sticky sound of tape separating from paper, and revealing a brand new watch, or shirt, or Pokémon game (yeah, I got the new Pokémon game for Christmas. Sue me. I’m a soul of simple pleasures, okay?). I savoured each and every Advent calendar chocolate, not really giving a shit that Advent is traditionally supposed to be a period of fasting.
Advent isn’t the only thing about the holidays that we’ve bastardized with our consumerist sensibilities. Not that I think we should be fasting or praying or whatever the heck religious people did during Christmastime, obviously; however, I think that our priorities have gotten way out of whack. Personally, I don’t think that I could take another year of silently letting my parents buy me so much shit that I don’t need. I’m a grown ass adult, and as much as I may think that I need a tea strainer shaped like the Death Star, I need to start realizing that I will never feel fulfilled from something material. No tangible object, or abundance of tangible objects, will make me a better person – and shouldn’t we always be striving to be better human beings? That’s kind of the point of existence, isn’t it?
So… how exactly does one recover from the overwhelming holidays? I haven’t quite figured out a way of telling myself and others to separate oneself from the material world without sounding like a pretentious asshole. I’ll just say this: it is possible to have a happy Christmas in the swirling capitalist hell that is modern society without succumbing to materialism, and that is by focusing on people during the holidays. Maybe it’s your family, or partner, or friends, or strangers in need of help — or maybe it’s just you! By remaining present in the “big picture” world, as I like to call it, we keep ourselves from falling into the trap of the “little picture” world, full of useless trinkets and shopper’s guilt… I mean, I don’t know about you, but now I’ve beaten Pokémon X and I feel pretty empty. It did only take me two days, though, which you should find very impressive. I beat the Pokémon League and everything.
Nikki Clydesdale, Online Contributor
Graphic: Sophie Barkham