12 December 2012

How a child remembers Christmas

How rewarding it as been to set myself a little challenge for Christmas. This year I've decided that all the gifts I buy will be made in New Zealand, handmade, second hand or completely focused on reading, art or music.

It has been such fun! Crackers, a cushion and a sewing kit from felt.co.nz; handmade wooden weapons, books, a flower press to dry flowers in, seeds, handmade market goodies and Trade Me gifts. I can't mention them in detail of course - you never know who might be reading this.

I don't buy second hand things for people other than my immediate family, but my children think they're fantastic. Two of the Trade Me items are of such quality I would never have been able to buy them new, and in both cases I don't think they could even be found in New Zealand shops. They also appear to be, in fact, new and unused.

There was one thing I gave in to: Jack wanted a baseball cap. It's awful and made in China. But when a child actually wants to wear a hat, it's a good thing. It covers his ears, too. We are pale and freckly people living in a land with sizzling UV levels and an annual death-from-melanoma rate even higher than our appalling car crash death statistics. (Even after writing that I still dislike the cap. We already have plenty of hats.)

He also wants to buy himself a $12 plastic skateboard from KMart, like his friend's. Last night we talked about all the reasons it would be wrong to do so: we already have one from a garage sale that is tatty but works very well; all the energy use and pollution that we would be supporting with that oh-so-cheap and tempting purchase, and how reducing is the most important R in reduce, reuse and recycle.

Anna has been so good at the three Rs: the gifts
she has wrapped for us and placed under our
Christmas tree are things we actually already own! 
My resolution to do my best in this regard is based on irrefutable, alarming facts. If only that tidy rubbish bag (please tell me you use a paper one... ) we put out on rubbish day did in fact disappear! I found some government stats reporting that in 2006, New Zealand sent 3.2 million tonnes of rubbish to municipal landfills. There are only 4 million people living in this country!

It wasn't until 1804 that the world's population hit 1 billion. Plastic hadn't been invented. Nearly 200 years later, in 1999, there were 6 billion of us, and giant landfills, and an ocean with a continent-sized aggregation of floating rubbish. The United Nations reckons there will be about 9.1 billion people by 2050. What on earth is this planet going to be like if we all churn out nearly a tonne of rubbish a year? It's a shameful, short-sighted scenario that I do not want my grandchildren to live with.

What can I remember about Christmas presents as I grew up? I definitely remember the excitement of loot appearing under the Christmas tree. I just can't remember what it was. I remember only one thing - something I was disappointed about. It was a sewing basket, and I didn't want it. My mother told me I'd find it very useful, and indeed I still use it!
Nature is decorating our garden beautifully
with these red feijoa flowers.

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