A month of multiple birthdays, November always passes me by in a bit of a celebratory blur. Although having a birthday season is fabulous, it always proves quite detrimental to all the good intentions I have for the festive season, with my dreams of creating handmade Christmas decorations and gifts slowly evaporating into the ether. Once the chaos of December begins, there’s generally no hope; my creative visions disappear, and, like so many other people, I get caught up in the race to be ready on time.
The fact is, the ever-growing commercialisation of Christmas means that we are often so absorbed in the idea of buying the latest gadget/must-have present for our loved ones, that we forget the true spirit of the season. As lovely as the sentiment in John Lewis’ ‘Bear and the Hare’ advert is (yes, I did shed a tear at it!), it is ultimately just another marketing tool, the gift of an alarm clock from a hare to a hibernating bear acting as a subtle reminder to consumers that the crazy countdown to Christmas has indeed begun.
What the advert positively highlights, however, is the notion of thoughtful gifting- giving the people we love the things they most desire/need to make them happy. As someone who tends to appreciate sentiment and consideration over material things, I always believe that Christmas is a time to show others that we care in whatever capacity we can- even if it’s just by wishing someone a happy Christmas. Yet I also get sucked into buying unnecessary gifts for the people I love because it’s quick and easy, rather than giving something more meaningful.
Without sounding like too much of a philanthropist, what I really want to advocate this year (and every year really) is not just buying or making thoughtful gifts, but being thoughtful per se. In a world where so many people can’t afford to purchase gifts from shops like John Lewis, it’d be wonderful if every person/family could do something kind for others, or for a cause they feel strongly about, during Advent. Whether you ask an elderly neighbour if they need anything from the supermarket; buy some charity Christmas cards; do some fundraising carol-singing; or give a couple of tins of dog food to your local animal shelter, any act of kindness will be appreciated by others.
There are a multitude of good deeds that people can do without breaking the bank or committing too much time. After doing a little research, I actually discovered a blog (named the same as my post) in which there are reams of amazing ideas to help you have your own altruistic advent, so consult this if you require a little push in the right direction:
You don’t need to do something outlandish or expensive; you don’t even need to mention it to others if you don’t wish to. Just remember to try to spread some festive joy this Christmas, and put a little bit of sparkle back into someone else’s existence- even just by smiling at everyone you see.
I certainly intend to.