Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Christmas Hangover

Late December, 2012

Dear Planet Earth

I felt I needed to offer you my sincere apologies.
I am posting this letter in the virtual space because my family and I have already done enough damage over the past week that I feel to use just one more piece of paper or envelope will send you spiralling out of control.

How do you do it? I mean, between us girls, how on earth (no pun intended) do you keep managing to consume so much crap and garbage and keep such a good figure? I have been surreptitiously emptying a 1.2kg box of Whitman’s over the past few days and I can already feel the damage being done.
Yet you will somehow absorb all the packaging from yet another extravagant Christmas and you do it with grace and nary a pair of Spanx in sight. Sorry to be rude, but do they even make them in your size?

It has taken me three days to find a home for all the new toys, and then another two hours this morning to separate the used wrapping paper from the cardboard from the plastic. This is the scene of recyclable carnage on my front verge this morning. I wonder if the garbologists will just laugh and keep driving. Or send me a bill for excess usage.
I love my children and want them to be happy, but I can’t help feel there must be a better way. I am a reasonably intelligent woman with a basic understanding of the G-I-G-O concept. All this packaging must come from somewhere and as soon as it disgorges its Barbie dolls and plastic dinosaurs it has to go somewhere. A big hole in your…. umm… in your earthly lady parts, hidden away from our sensitive eyes.

Yes, I could stop buying my kids toys, but a) that’s no fun and b) I doubt even Arnie with a whopping great big rocket launcher could stop the Awesome Grandparents from indulging in a mild case of Christmas Craziness.
I could write letters to Mattel and Leapfrog and V-Tech and ask them to put their products in an eco-friendly hessian bag instead of all of that cardboard and plastic, but do you think they would listen? It would certainly save time on Christmas Day, and prevent the indignity of watching three adults trying to extricate a plastic toy from its web of wires and ties and plastic locks while the kids look on in exasperation.

I could buy only packaging-free, second-hand or hand-made toys. This is actually not a bad option considering the fact that Number 1 present for Curly Mop this year was a $2 second-hand horse from a local swap meet. I felt you smile at me that day but I’m not sure how long the kids would accept this as a solution though.
I could swap kids. No, that probably wouldn’t solve anything, as I am reasonably sure that I am not the only person with this issue.
Two bags of wrapping paper, one of plastic and a box of cardboard
The thing is, it’s not just the obnoxious consumption and packaging and the awkward choice between expensive but good quality wrapping paper or cheaper paper that tears along the corners of boxes and you end up using a whole roll of sticky tape to hide the holes.
It’s the lights. A third of our greenhouse emissions comes from lighting displays (not to mention the spike in the electricity bill).

The billions of Christmas cards that are thrown away.
The food we don’t end up eating, or the food we do eat, and which hangs around our hips as permanent Christmas rolls of a different sort.

You see Earth, it’s awkward. I am uncomfortable with the excess and wastage caused by my family, but I am a bit of a Christmas-tragic, and I am hardly going to lead the charge for cancelling it. I’m no Grinch.
So here is what I promise to do, my New Year Resolutions if you will.

I promise that anything that can be recycled from this Christmas, will be recycled (even if it’s quicker and easier just to dump everything in the bin).
I promise to eat the entire box of Whitman’s (and the Favourites and the Quality Street) and not waste a single one.

I promise to sit my kids down and explain that the true meaning of Christmas is not actually ‘she who dies with the most toys, wins’.
I promise to surreptitiously ‘borrow’ some of the myriad toys gifted to my children this year, and dole them out during the year for special occasions rather than go and buy MORE toys, which I am known to do.

I promise to set up a Secret Santa system next Christmas with both sets of Awesome Grandparents so that each child receives fewer gifts.
I promise to encourage my kids to make handmade gifts for each other next Christmas.

I promise to use the ten thousand gift bags I have stored in my cupboard next year, rather than buying more wrapping paper (and I will give some to the Awesome Grandparents as well).
I promise to have a good clean up during the year, and make sure that toys my children no longer use, find a good home.

Finally, I promise that I will remember this letter to you, and the weight of excess consumption I feel right now, and endeavour to do better (ie do less) next Christmas.

Please forgive me the multiple Barbie Boxes up your lady parts.



  1. I hear you! I saw a row of depressing Christmas T-shirts this year in the shops with materialistic messages like "Christmas is all about ME! ME! ME!" and "Drop the loot off here Santa" etc etc... I really don't want my kids to think that's what Christmas is all about!

    I bought one huge roll of good quality wrapping paper about 6 years ago and it's still going strong... I think it is about 100m? I also keep lots of those gift bags but haven't reused any yet.. must do that! Thankfully the packaging wasn't too bad for us this year (our kids are 1 and 2 so they didn't get a huge pile of toys), and we kept the bin overflow to a minimum by taking each present out of its nest of cardboard/wires when we bought it, and then wrapping it with batteries etc all ready to be played with immediately on Christmas Day (because toddlers are not the most patient of people!)

  2. I hear you Pamela, our baby was more than satisfied with some plastic measuring spoons and a ball of scrunched up wrapping paper. Babies are easy to please... maybe the trick to Christmas is not let the kids grow up. When they learn to talk, they learn to ask for things.. When they watch TV, they begin to ask for whatever is advertised. When they get to school, they begin to compare what they get with their friends.


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