Student’s Corner

Oh, The Holidays

The holidays should be a time where we all can gather with the ones we love to celebrate the things, or rather not things, that we cherish the most. For me, this means spending time with my family and friends, sharing our challenges, accomplishments, losses, loves and experiences and just enjoying the connections we have with each other. 

Yet the holidays promote mass consumption, excessive waste and other unsustainable practices. Why are these celebrations so focused around consumerism rather than maintaining our connections with each other and ourselves? There seems to be a culture of quantity rather than quality when it comes to gift giving, which is pretty counterintuitive. We want to shower our loved ones in random little gifts, usually with the best intentions in mind, but these things often receive little use before being tossed away. It’s easy to get swept up in this mindset, shopping for plastic knick knacks that might bring a brief moment of joy but be long forgotten rather quickly by the owner and left to sit in the Earth for a thousand more years. 

So how can we avoid participating in funding huge corporations whose advertising targets us and manipulates us into believing we want and need these products in order to show love for each other? The answer is that it is pretty tough. We’ve been raised in a neoliberal capitalist society for generations and these things, these items, these commodities, are so ingrained in our culture that going against the norm can be difficult. But if we remind ourselves that love can be communicated outside of giving things and that these things do not define us, that our thoughts, experiences, actions and feelings do, we can try to fight the wasteful practices that we seem to believe holidays are about. 

We can do little things like ditch the wrapping paper and skip out on pointless little stocking stuffers. We can limit our gifts to things we truly need or that can be bought secondhand. We can regift, create something or share our thoughts. We can do whatever feels right to express our gratitude or love for that person. We can take a moment to be grateful. We can spend time together and remind ourselves what love and the holidays are truly about.

Written by Olivia Giovannini-Dolan, Class of 2020

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