Tis’ The Season! (To Be A Minimalist)
It comes every single year around the same time, and yet everyone around you seems to still find it novel without fail. You guessed it, it’s the holiday season. If you are a minimalist (or trying to become one) you will probably find this time of year to be a tad annoying and a bit asinine.
From black Friday to Christmas morning, the world around us is enamored by consumerism and materialism. How is one able to be a minimalist during the holidays when they are surrounded by polar opposite behavior?
Now, there is nothing wrong with being in the Christmas spirit. The time with family, holiday specials on tv, delicious food and events are all part of why people love this time of year. It gives people something to look forward to and has even been known to elevate moods for a brief month or so. However, there is something much more sinister about the holidays as well.
To say that the holidays are filled with consumerism and greed is a bit cliché, but a little critical thinking will make you question the integrity of it all. Why is everyone so hell-bent on buying and giving gifts?
Is it really about the act of generosity, or are we just misguided as to what part of the holiday will make us happy? More than likely it is the latter.
Where Does Minimalism Fit In?
Even a seasoned minimalist will feel some pressure during this time of year. Everyone around you will be exchanging and buying gifts while you feel like somewhat of a cheap skate.
You know that everyone else’s priorities are not in the right place, but peer pressure has a funny way of causing doubt. So you may feel the need to cave just this once and splurge a little on unnecessarily expensive trinkets for loved ones.
The simple solution is to just say…NO! The most powerful word in the english language will really help you put things in perspective, especially if you are already on a budget.
If you are a minimalist you know that material items are NOT what brings happiness to our lives. A holiday season does not change this constant philosophy! How long will whatever gift you buy make someone happy for?
You can consciously make the decision to partake in the holidays for what they were meant for. No one is holding a gun to your head to buy and exchange gifts!
What really matters is that you are there spending time with those you care about. So how can a minimalist really get into the holiday spirit without blowing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars at Target?
Just Say No!
You do not have to feel obligated to do what everyone else is doing during this part of the year. I’m sure that many people have genuinely good intentions when giving gifts to others but lets face it, most of the time it is nothing more than a pissing contest. “Oh look Sally got her niece a new Macbook. Tiffany got her son an iPhone X!”
Since when did this season become all about buying shit we can’t afford and don’t need? We are quite literally discarding the enjoyment and company of people we care about and replacing it with the stress of coming up with enough money to buy gifts. Yes, you get satisfaction out of giving someone a nice thing but you’ll also get satisfaction from spending time with that person instead.
If you truly are a minimalist then you will understand that this time of year is no different from the rest of the year in a consumerism sense. It is just more overt during November – December.
Companies advertise and push crap on us we don’t need year round. It is almost a sense of peer-pressure when it comes to the expectations the holidays bestow upon us. Give yourself a break. Give your wallet a break. You do NOT need to stress over coming up with money you don’t have to not seem “cheap.”
If you have disposable income and don’t care where it is going then fine, but that is usually not the reality for most. Minimalism is about making peace with the fact that you don’t need all the money and material goods in the world to be happy.
Be Around, But Do Not Be Swayed
You should absolutely make time for your family and friends during the holidays. Some of us work or go away to see relatives. So it is a bit harder to see everyone, but it is the thought that counts.
You just have to put yourself in the right mindset this time of year and make it clear that you will not be stressing yourself out over the same thing as everyone else. You know what matters most.
The group that should take this advice the most are those struggling with debt and their finances. Think about it, you’re already in the crapper with your financial situation and possibly have made a budget by now.
Are you really going to let one month out of the year destroy your plan and set you back for months? An extra $1000-2000 on the credit card can take forever to pay off if you barely have a pot to piss in. Do not detriment your plan for being smart with your money in the name of Christmas.
If you are in a better position than this and really REALLY want to give gifts you may. Just make sure you have it within your budget. I find that if I am going to get someone a gift, it makes sense to find something they will get use out of.
Find something that will genuinely make life easier or more convenient for that person. It doesn’t even have to be expensive! I was given a $30 duffel bag last year from a relative and I use it almost every day, as it holds all my things for work. My relative asked around before buying the gift to find out what I would use more than once.
Enjoy The Holidays
Of course, this is not an invitation to shove minimalism down loved one’s throats. Share the season with them and enjoy what comes with it but stick to your own plan. Just because everyone else is “wrapped up” (pun) in gift giving does not mean it is essentially best.
Watch a marathon of Christmas specials with friends with a six-pack. Host a potluck style Friendsgiving. Go see whatever your version of the Rockefeller Tree or the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights are. Just avoid Target and Wal-Mart. Especially around Black Friday, I heard things can get pretty violent out there!