Working at Topshop, I am, quite naturally exposed to a fairshare of materialism. This is not to say this is something only encountered whilst working in retail, or even to try to pretend I am an anti-capitalism saint (I have a fashion blog afterall..) but at this time of year, with the christmas rush, the demanding nature of people's material needs is increasingly apparent and well, all a bit distasteful.
I've lost count of the amount of flustered mothers and boyfriends I have tended to over the past fortnight. They are armed with wishlists and flailing their shaky hands with a fear of giving gifts that have not been previously specified as wanted. I can identify with that sense of hopelessness during present shopping, the task swamped by cluelessness when facing the idea of buying for a tricky family member. However, hearing resigned Fathers sigh 'these days she just tells me what she wants.. at least then I know she'll be happy..' is all rather heartbreaking and quite frankly tiresome. I hate to come over all Scrooge, but what does this Father's statement (and I've heard numerous identical echoes) say about my generation? That hoards of little Princesses are being bred with a sense of entitlement to receive perfect christmas presents exactly as they wish, is the impression I'm under.
Of course, I know relatives like suggestions to ease the burden of shopping, but when did giving a gift to somebody you love have to be a burden? Any other time of the year it would be both a pleasure to give and receive a little token out of the blue. A little 'I thought this and thought of you, but hey, no worries If you don't like it' gift. This is an era clouded by environmental and financial issues; we're producing more than we need, creating hair-raising amounts of waste and being swept away by the 'instant gratification' ideology. It is with this in mind, combined with the daily sprinkling of the word 'recession' across our newspapers that this mindset seems particularly unsettling.
Can't we look back to bygone eras (I know, nostalgia in such situations can seem cliched and romanticised..but..) and adopt that spirit of quality over quantity? Perhaps a thick paperback and a modest slab of chocolate for christmas time reading and rustling over a stack of shiny new electronic goods (which come with financial heartburn come January..)
When my friends hear that myself and my parents will be exchanging just one book and one food/drink related piece this year, they indeed call me Scrooge in jest and I hate to think I sound self righteous, but why can't this be enough? Less can be more, the element of surprise is refreshing, and most of us live surrounded by enough accumulated clutter. The worse case scenario is that you get lumped with a couple of gifts that aren't your cup of tea. I really can't see that this is true hardship.
Now, this isn't meant to be a rant, though I suppose it is a bit of a vent. I am interested to know your attitudes. I used to write wishlists when I was younger, but since the age of 16 I've been encouraged to buy my own gifts and receive the same amount as the 'adults'. Perhaps you feel differently and can stand up for your traditions or I've overlooked something. Either way, do have a gabber in the comments box!