Occupy Your Holiday: In this Economy, Give the Gift of Time

Holiday TimeThis holiday season give the gift of time; not a fine time piece, give a piece of your deliberate, hard-to-come-by time. Often, it is simpler to make up for insufficient time in the day by throwing material goods at the problem. “Sorry I can’t make it to your wedding. Here’s an extravagant kitchen gadget.” “Can’t make it to your soccer game, but I’ll pick up a new video game for you on my way home.” “Working late, won’t be able to go out with you, but will send some flowers.” These thoughtful gestures help cover the hole of one’s absence, but the cost really adds up, both in the wallet and in the relationships. The holiday season has become one huge materialistic bandage of consumerism to make-up for our lack of time to celebrate and to spend quality time together with our friends and family. Consumerism has come to be indistinguishable from the celebration of the Christmas holiday.

We purchase box upon box of material goods to spread the joy of the season, just to strike names off a list. Waiting hours to shop at the crack of dawn, we scoop up deals at the Post-Thanksgiving sales without regard of the impact on employees who lost holiday time with their families, in the name of our savings(money, not time). Spend your money and your time with great purpose, this season.

As pods of the 99% take over parks across America, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the biggest corporate event of the year for the 1%. Months of marketing and mounds of money have gone into convincing the general public that we must have e-toys and e-trinkets of all shapes, screens, and sizes. Some of these devices are even thinly disguised as tools to facilitate more on-line shopping. ”Occupy” and “Move Your Money” movements are focused on boycotting these same big banks in favor of community banks and credit unions, but who benefits by the mega-debt we go into this time of year in charging all these gift purchases? Big banks! Huge corporate banks make millions off merchants’ backs in credit card processing fees and, no doubt, more from the interest on the accrued debit amounts that take the entirety of the new year to pay off. All in the name of holiday cheer, we go whistling to the brink of fiscal disaster to buy frivolous fad items and must-have techno-tchotchkees that break, or are out-dated before the final payment has been made. (Do you know where your “Zoo-Zoo” pet is?)

Take back the holiday from the greedy corporate money mongers! Refuse to run-up a god-awful debt that leaves you financially whimpering long into the next year. Walk past the big box stores in favor of handmade gifts, home-baked holiday treats, or frame that special photograph for that special someone. Not only are handmade gifts more personal and affordable, but they offer an opportunity to be expressive or create something meaningful with friends, family, or neighbors. Spending the time together in the kitchen or making holiday cards and gifts can be the most treasured gift of all.

Give your time meaningfully to charitable organizations as a volunteer. Consider volunteering at a community food bank or soup kitchen with a friend. Sometimes the nicest thing we can do for ourselves is to do for others; it only costs some time, and can really warm up that holiday spirit. Giving to your preferred charities or not-for-profit organizations in the name of friends or family members spreads love by alternative gifting; donations in memory of those that have passed away in the past year are a sincere gesture that mean more than flowers or a fruit basket to a bereaved family. Take time to see children in holiday performances, or friends’ art in galleries, play productions, and chorale performances, but, most importantly, share things you and your friends and family enjoy, together. December 9th is the National Day of Sharing; make it last the whole month. Instead of stacks of presents, opt for items that can be shared or played together. Board or card games offer a fun opportunity to share time together versus on-line games shared with a screen in solitude. Even shopping downtown with a friend is more fun than solo cyber-consumption.

Shopping on-line may appear to be a time-saver, but do you really ever get the right size if you can not try it on first? Shopping locally, supporting local artisans, and keeping your cash in the community gives your hard-earned money to the 99% pool. It’s easy to appreciate the concept of “shopping locally”, but it is far greater to follow, especially when it means contributing to the economic health of your neighborhood. Local businesses appreciate the holiday traffic and strive to serve their customers up a more festive and enjoyable holiday experience. Community bazaars, art fairs, and craft shows offer many gift options and showcase regional talents. Local merchants work hard to supply customers with unique and interesting selections of outside-the-box fashion, toys, accessories, gifts, and art that reflect where we live. This holiday season, when considering where to spend your precious time and money, bring it home for the holidays!