Useful Things

Useful Things

indoor cat

The holidays are back, but do our old gifting habits have to be? Maybe there is one thing we can leave behind as we return to “normal” this holiday season: unchecked consumerism.


Maybe there is one thing we can leave behind as we return to “normal” this holiday season: unchecked consumerism.

There is something that I have genuinely missed since the pandemic hit, and that is: seeing people over the holidays. In my head, that usually includes some variation of: eating too much, baking too much, drinking too much, hugging too much, fighting too much. I am longing for that human touch and all of the complicated feelings of having too many people all up in your space at one time. The too-much-ness of it all.

But I have not missed the glut of overconsumption, the frenzy of shopping and gift giving. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore giving gifts to the people I love. I love everything about it—making lists, coming up with ideas, and then wrapping each present by hand with care. But I could do without the incessant capitalism of it all—the pull to spend more money than we have on things we don’t need as a way to prove our love or to “manifest a Christmas morning of abundance and cheer.

Cheer, I believe with my whole heart, can not be bought or sold. Abundance, we are told, is a mindset, but I think that theory has more to do with privilege than mindfulness.

Here are some ways to do it differently this time around. It feels, in a way, like we get to start over this year.

 

Buy Nothing New

This concept is the subject of a recent article in the New York Times. Basically, give yourself this challenge: Shop only secondhand for everyone on your list. It’s harder, actually, which makes your gift giving feel more intentional and the thoughtfulness of your purchases feel well earned.

See what nostalgic, idiosyncratic gifts you can find for your people. An old book. A movie poster. A print. Vintage costume jewelry. Some old candleholders. A sweater. A tape player for that one last mixtape they’ve held onto since middle school. A random vase.

I am not suggesting you make your life harder, or that the only gifts that are good to give are the ones you had to rummage for. But I do love how personalized this gift giving feels, and how exciting. Of course, by buying nothing new, you are also not contributing to more eventual waste on our poor, suffering planet, which is also pretty cool.

 

Buy Only Useful Stuff

Philosophically, I find the term “useful” hard to define. Something that is seemingly frivolous (my favorite red lipstick?) might be “useful” for someone’s (my?) personal happiness. But without spiraling too far out here, I’ll just define “useful” as something pragmatic. It is lovely to give someone something that they might genuinely need and that has a practical (yet still pleasurable) application in their lives—a handmade soap, a compostable toothbrush, a really good balm for their babies rashy bum, a coupon for a homemade meal, a delicious baked good to share, cute socks, an offer to babysit for some tired parents you might know, some damn deodorant for crying out loud!

 

Shop Small, Shop Local

I am not going to tell you what you already know (that Jeff Bezos doesn’t need more of your money and that Uline endangers trans and queer lives), but I do want to say: if you want to buy something new or useful this year (or even something used!) I think it would be cool to try to shop as small as possible. Seek out companies whose values align with your own, who are trying to make a difference, and who package and produce their goods with as little waste as possible. Support businesses run by people of color. Support artists wherever you can. Support local shops that are paying rent!

 

Redistribute

If you have a few bones to spare this holiday, consider giving them to mutual aid organizations in your area. These are groups supporting the people in your community year round. Here are (some of) the organizations we love.



May your holidays be filled with too much of all the best things—animals to cuddle, people to hug, delicious meals to share, glasses to fill.

 

The Meow Meow Tweet Blog Is A Collaborative Thought Project Between The Founders Of Meow Meow Tweet And Our Editorial Team. This Post Was Written By Vera Kachouh.

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