buy nothing christmas '03
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Buy Nothing Christmas, Back to Basics

By Jane Sauls Staff Writer

From Southern Oregon News, Monday, December 13, 2004

STREETS ARE CROWDED, stores are packed and credit lines are bursting.

Tis the season - to shop til you drop!

Except for one Medford couple. Darren and Payton Windslow have declared a "Buy Nothing Christmas" this year. "Christmas has gotten so far out of hand," explained Payton Windslow, 29.

"Everyone spends more than they can afford to buy a ton of things that no one really wants. Second cousins, the mailman - everyone feels obligated to buy everyone they know a gift."
This year, instead, the young couple declared an old fashioned Christmas. Instead of store bought gifts, they will make homemade cookies and fudge, give away scarves made all year and print tasteful coupons promising everything from babysitting services and oil changes to yard work and errand running.

"We figured it was better to give people things they could use instead of fueling the fire when it comes to spending our limit in credit and blowing every paycheck for three months," Darren Windslow said.

"We'd been feeing this way for years but were too afraid to be the only people in our family to boycott the nightmare. This year we got to thinking we could put the money into our house or put it aside and do something relaxing this summer. We aren't against Christmas, but this year we'll make gifts for close relatives and send everyone else a card and happy wishes."

The couple is not alone in their disgust with Yuletide Excess.

A website, Buy Nothing Christmas (www.buynothingchristmas.org) is on the bandwagon this year. What began in Vancouver, British Columbia, is taking hold is parts of the United States. It all began with "Buy Nothing Day," when consumers agreed to boycott the annual day-after-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. This year, Buy Nothing Christmas is urging consumers to "buy nothing" all season long.

Another site, The Christmas Resistance Movement (www.xmasresistance.org) enforces the same basic concept.

You know holiday shopping is offensive and wasteful, the site reads.
You know Christmas "wish lists" and "gift exchanges" degrade the concept of giving. You know Christmas marketing is a scam, benefiting manufacturers, stores, and huge corporations, while driving individuals into debt. You know this annual consumer frenzy wreaks havoc on the environment, filling landfills with useless packaging and discarded gifts.

Yet, every year, you cave in and go shopping.

The site provides stickers - 100 for $30 - to put the word out. It also gives pointers on resisting the temptation to "give in" and offers solutions for dealing with family and friends who are somewhat taken aback by any black sheep in the family who fail to submit to the annual season of spending.

Eagle Point mother-daughter pair Hattie Andrews and Trudy Barnes offered a few tips of their own for having a relaxing family Christmas without overspending.

Rather than store bought boxes of candy, whip up some homemade cookies or fudge.

Use talents, like flower arranging or sewing, to make homemade wares rather than wasting time in stores that could be spent enjoying family.

Clean out attics and garages and distribute family keepsakes, like old table cloths, photos or antique furniture, for the next generation to enjoy.

Donate to a favorite charity and present family members with a card letting them know you donated in their name.

Make up creative coupons such as a night of free childcare for new parents, a weekend of helping with odd jobs for an elderly relative or a Saturday at the movies with a young family member.

While Andrews and Barnes will not boycott Christmas, they agree spending often gets out of control and, said Andrews, takes away from the true meaning of Christmas.

"I don't think you have to not do Christmas completely," she said.

"But put things into perspective and don't buy what you don't really want to."

Andrews and Barnes will buy for the children in their families. Adults, however, will receive homemade scarves, candy and framed family photos. Barnes, a genealogy buff, will print copies of the family's history along with photos taken throughout the year.

"It's something my brothers and sisters are going to appreciate more than some shirt or bath kit," Barnes reasoned.

"This will be something they keep long after they've forgotten what else they got for the holidays and long after they are still paying off the credit cards."


Jane Sauls may be reached at jane@southernoregonnews.com

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