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Does Christmas Gift Shopping Have To Be Bah Humbug?

Hey there Guys,

Well Christmas is almost upon us. The cheesy carols are playing in the shopping centers, decorations are out and the run of work parties has already started.

For me Christmas doesn’t have much  meaning. My family is far away and I have never really be religious so I tend to enjoy the days off and the chance to relax, read and do nothing. My partner Nick and I sometimes exchange gifts however we really don’t do much in the way of getting into the spirit.

I recently saw a post on Facebook that I quite liked and thought you may find helpful as well.

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Australians with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods –merchandise that has been produced at the expense of Australian labor. And also produced in slave like conditions for the poor people working there.

This year will be different. This year Australians will give the gift of genuine concern for other Australians. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by Australian hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in cheap foreign produced wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small owned detail shops & car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates. For the Gardeners on your list – how about some lovely healthy pot plants or plants for the garden or even a gift certificate from the local lawn mowing man.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Panasonic of a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. If your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local cafe. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the Australian working guy?

What about a gift certificate from a local home handyman for some chores to be done around the home?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mum? Mum would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

Someone’s computer could use a tune-up, & I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up & running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool & knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, & pottery & beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. How about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another 10,000 foreign made lights for the house? When you buy a $5.00 string of light, about 50 cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the postman, garbo or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining Australian pockets so some other country can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about Australia, encouraging our small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. When we care about other Australians, we care about our communities, & the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

While I found the patriotic drive of this article a little on the heavy side I am a big believer in moving away from buying crap “because we have to get something”.

59 secondsCurrently I am reading a book called 59 Seconds, Think A Little, Change A Lot. This book explores a variety of brief thought experiments you can undertake that helps increase happiness, joy and feelings of well being.

In the first chapter they discuss the question does buying “stuff” increase happiness. The data is very interesting.

Buying nice objects like iPads, diamonds and other goods increases happy feelings but only for a brief period. What they have found is that buying “experiences” gives good feelings for much longer periods of time. I am sure you all have happy memories of a holiday, a great concert or even a lovely picnic with someone you care hidden away in the back of your mind. The research shows that it’s these experiences that last long in our memories, much longer then our quickly outdated toys.

Research also shows that it is the giving of a gift that increases happiness more then the receiving. It’s the process of going out, choosing and then seeing the joy in the person who you’ve cared about.

I have a bit of a tradition each year in that I go to one of the bigger department stores in Melbourne with a hot $100 burning in my hand. Each year this particular store has a Christmas tree out the front with hundreds of tags hanging off it with children’s names and their age. I normally grab three of four of these tags and then go shopping for these kids I have never met.

If you have never done this I highly recommend it. I had totally forgotten the joy of toy shopping, carefully thinking out would a kid of this age appreciate a gift like this or that. Shopping done the gifts are  dropped back at the tree where volunteers wrap and tag them to be distributed to children who’s parents are in hardship and not able to do this sort of spending.

It’s a wonderful feeling of being able to imagine the children’s faces Christmas morning and for me a great feeling that I may have made a potentially sad day happy.

Christmas does not have to be about spending, it’s really about the thought. Which would you rather, a beautiful hand made gift made with love or  a quickly chosen piece of junk done in a flurry of last minute shopping? Perhaps a donation to a wonderful charity that makes a difference like Camp Quality?

I know which I would prefer.

Your in good health and surviving the silly season.

Dr George Photo Cred: Awkward Family Photos

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