Resisting Consumer Pressure = Reclaiming the Holiday Spirit

Solstice spiral

I have been noticing some interesting emotions recently. They seem to be a combination of internally focused as well as external. This duality, this pushing and pulling, that seem to be at war with each other. I think I know what is going on, so I will share my perspective with you. (I recently experienced some back pain, which is connected, in my view, to some repressed anger I have been feeling recently). This frustration with our society is resisting my desire to find joy in simple, joyful connection with others.

Similarly, this holiday season, a lot of conflicting emotions can come up for many of us. We feel happy about the joy involved, and the opportunity to spend time with friends and family.

But the downside is the constant pressure to buy. “Conform, consume, obey” is the message that the corporate-controlled powers want us to buy into (literally)! (And subliminal messages are used everywhere in advertising, political campaigns, etc. to program our minds and influence our behavior).

 The materialism and the feeling of obligation to do what everyone else is doing (putting up Christmas lights, get a nice gift for someone, make sure the house is clean, etc.) involved around the holidays can be stifling and overtake the joy that is meant to be experienced.

 How can we reclaim the holidays to revive the spirit of giving, sharing, and enjoying time with loved ones and those in need? First, it’s important to understand how much our thinking has been influenced/programmed by the mass media. This doesn’t mean we have to agree that every “conspiracy theory” out there is true (since there are things that are true and others that are not, but usually there are elements of truth in everything – the 80-20 rule as applied to 80% truth, 20% falsehood, or vice versa).

It does mean that we need to protect ourselves from the ongoing mind-programming that happens via advertising on radio, TV, internet – basically everywhere – and be aware at how strongly our behavior and thoughts are influenced by it.

More and more people are fighting back against the whole concept of Black Friday, holiday shopping and the pressure to buy, buy, buy. I personally have cancelled my Amazon Prime subscription. I cannot stomach ordering another plastic toy that just pads the pockets of Jeff Bezos’ climate-choking empire of boxes packaged by underpaid and mistreated factory workers.

I basically don’t give gifts anymore to most people (except to my kids), and my family does a Secret Santa exchange which greatly reduces the pressure. Instead, we sometimes make homemade gifts and bake things for people. When I do buy gifts, I do my best to only support local businesses, particularly artisans, musicians (like custom songs written by Chris Kemp White).

 At some point, I believe that we will live in a world where we reclaim the holidays for what they truly are. A time to celebrate the return of the sun (winter solstice), which was a Pagan holiday that was twisted and corrupted by a certain powerul church.  And then there is the celebration of Jesus’s birth. Whatever you believe about that, at the very least, the message is simply of love.

 And that’s what this is really about.

 It’s about love. And joyful celebration over good food and cheer with our friends and neighbors. And helping others in need (now, and all year long).

 So, try taking the pressure off yourself. Let people know you’re done with the consumer shopping madness. Tell people you’re not going to make a big deal out of a meal or hosting a party (make it a crappy dinner holiday party)! Everyone brings something (potluck-style), and if your house is a bit messy and the food is just crackers and hummus, who cares?

What if Christmas were celebrated without the expectation of giving and receiving gifts? What if we eliminated that altogether? If someone is moved by the spirit of giving, how wonderful for them. But forget about the feeling of obligation, guilt over the need to reciprocate. What matters, in my view is just sharing joy, without expecting anything in return.

Just like Dr. Seuss tried to teach us in the Grinch, the Whos didn’t need presents to feel the joy. They simply held hands and sang together in a big circle. What a wonderful world that would be.

P.S. Here’s a winter solstice ritual that we will be doing on December 21st (called the Solstice Spiral) from the Witches Circle:

“Based on the Waldorf tradition of a “advent spiral ” which is often made outdoors using Evergreen branches. And in the middle, or what I call the end, place a single candle. This symbolizes the light amongst the dead of winter. As you walk through the spiral, light your own candle and carry it with you along the way, leave behind any loses, or anything you no longer need in the darkness. And continue forward to the bright spark of new possibilities that are taking root for the new year. After walking through the spiral, some people place their candle on their Yule Log, to further help bring to them what they desire for the new year. Some people even have apples cored and placed among the evergreen branches and then at the end, place the candle into the apple, to light the way for those to follow. This would be a good time to write down what you wish for most in the new year, and save those letters in a jar. It would be interesting to read next year … what you’ve accomplished for yourself! Winter is all about transformation, and renewal. From Yule on out, the days will get longer, and the darkness will slowly recede. Don’t bring anything into the new year that no longer serves you…”

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