It’s barely more than three weeks to Christmas. Now I have in my time, like a lot of folk, gone out and bought tat, cheap rubbishy nonsense, for the sake of having bought something, for the sake of having the shopping done when you are exhausted, and you just want to go home. But I think most things I have ever bought have been an expression of love, of friendship, of appreciation.  I have bought what I could afford, and had immense pleasure in the giving.  Conversely, I have received gifts, made or bought, and have felt loved and appreciated in the receiving.

This year I feel I need a different approach to the whole shooting match. In terms of the buying, I will be doing my utmost to avoid plastic packaging and containers. So: no nice smellies, unless it’s a bar of soap. No delicious biscuits, unless they’re in a cardboard box or a tin.  No foolish Christmas singing animals or cheap plastic toys that give but a few minutes of mild amusement. But just how rigorous, how absolutist to be, is taxing my brain. For instance, I saw a lovely sweater the other day. It would look great on my youngest daughter. But it was made of acrylic fibre, one of the worst offenders for shedding fibres into the water when washed. I didn’t buy it, but I regret not seeing her the sweater in it, if you see what I mean. 

And what do you say to the folks who usually buy presents for me? Do I ask that nobody buys me plastic wrapped items? Or would that be unreasonably forcing my views on my friends and family? After all, you wouldn’t buy one of those lovely wrapped Spanish hams for a vegetarian. Is it okay for me to ask that nobody gets one for me, because I don’t want to be responsible for its packaging? I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of giving. Second hand books are a marvellous thing, and I can always find room for them. Ditto second hand clothes, but I think my best idea so far is that my cash strapped daughters gift me some of their time and energy, by painting the hall and landing. It badly needs doing and every time I see it I will be reminded of them. Genius eh?  

What do readers think?  Anybody else struggling with these issues? Would really like to hear your views.

 Liz Longden.

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