buy nothing christmas '03
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Buy Nothing group carols in malls -- and gets ejected

By Sandra E. Martin

From National Post, December 11, 2004

AIDEN ENNS HAS A UNIQUE STYLE of Christmas caroling that shoppers seem to enjoy -- but most merchants do not. Mr. Enns and his rotating entourage have been ejected from shopping malls and big box stores on more than one occasion for their lyric twists on favourite holiday songs such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

As Mr. Enns, co-founder of the Buy Nothing Christmas movement (www.buynothingchristmas.org) sings it, the tune goes: "Oh oh we're in the red, dear / On our credit card it shows / Christmas is almost over / But the debit line still grows...."

You get the picture. It isn't that he's a Grinch. On the contrary, the 43-year-old Winnipegger loves giving gifts.

"Giving is a wonderful thing," he says. "What I object to is how it's become taken over by the commercial forces." His Web site offers tons of tips, from himself and from some of the site's 3,200 daily visitors, on how to show you care at Christmas without getting into debt.

Suggestions include giving home-made gifts, or low-cost items with lots of thought value, such as custom CDs, cookies and -- perhaps most original -- "Give [the free-to-download computer operating system] Linux for Christmas! ... And give a hand installing it."

Proving he practises what he preaches, Mr. Enns, together with his partner, is making personalized, screen-printed pillowcases for each of his 18 nieces and nephews.

A freelance writer and a former editor with the anti-commercial Adbusters magazine, Mr. Enns calls himself "a campaigner.... My goal is to identify and build a community of folks who want to celebrate Christmas, but do it in a simpler way." But he's learned from experience that it's easier to get people to listen to humour than to a sermon.

"Earnestness is a problem with campaigns," he says. "They can come off as too heavy-handed."

There are signs that his lighter approach is working. After being asked to leave a local mall in Winnipeg, his group was "rescued" by the manager of a shoe store, who invited them into the sanctuary of her shop, where they continued "stop-shop carolling" for several more songs.

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