Enough buying, teens say
Spirit of Christmas weighed down by 'mindless over-consumption'
By Carol Goodwin
Record, Friday November 26, 2004
|Karin Fast (left), Michaela Krahn and Corey Schlueter hold
one of their posters for the Buy Nothing Christmas Campaign
at Rockway Mennonite School in Kitchener yesterday afternoon.
KITCHENER -- Pssst! Here's a novel idea. Don't buy
anything for Christmas.
Celebrate Christmas by all means, says a local group
of students. Exchange gifts with those you love. Mark the occasion
with ceremony. Create memories. Get together. Have fun.
It's all possible without buying into the shopping
frenzy, the media overkill and the commercialism that blots out
the true meaning of the holiday, say Michaela Krahn, 16, Corey Schlueter,
16, and Karin Fast, 14, students at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
It's an idea that's snowballing across North America,
according to the website www.buynothingchristmas.org
"What with the malls and the media, Christmas
has become a Hallmark holiday," Karin said in an interview
at her school.
Corey and friends are planning to quietly spread the
word at a local mall this weekend.
"I don't like the idea of mindless, chronic over-consumption
-- the whole idea of buy, buy, buy," he said.
The students won't be talking to shoppers, simply
handing them a small flyer and a mirror "so they can look at
themselves buying stuff they don't need."
With the encouragement of Jane Snyder, their Sunday
school teacher at Erb Street Mennonite Church in Waterloo, Michaela,
Corey, Karin and others in Snyder's class, decided they'd give up
one or more of their own presents this Christmas.
They plan to ask their parents or other family members
to donate the money they would have spent on the gift to the Sunnydale
Community Centre in Waterloo, Snyder said. The centre serves a neighbourhood
of ethnically diverse and low-income residents.
"We've been discussing consumerism, advertising,
commercialism and the Buy Nothing Christmas concept in our Sunday
school class," Snyder said.
"This would be a way of calming our own Christmases,
as well as helping someone else," she said.
Besides working on the community centre project, the
students have issued a challenge to join the Buy Nothing movement
to other Mennonite churches in Waterloo Region and Perth county.
The movement began four years ago in Vancouver and
was picked up in the U.S., where a Buy Nothing Day was set for just
after the American Thanksgiving, estimated to be the biggest shopping
day of the year in the U.S.
The local effort is not centred on a particular day,
Snyder said. It can continue right up until Christmas.
So what are the kinds of gifts you could exchange,
spending very little or no money?
According to the Buy Nothing catalogue, you could
make coupons promising sessions for child care, foot or back massages,
a recipe for homemade bagels, a visit, a meal, a cake, a photograph
of a favourite place or flower, a jar of preserves . . . the list
"Christmas should be more about the idea of Christmas,
and the people you care about. Not tonnes and tonnes of money,"
Goodwin, Record Staff
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