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Shoppers urged to shop less

By Adam Clayton

From The Winnipeg Sun, December 17, 2006

Shoppers in the Polo Park area were greeted with some unusual Christmas carols yesterday.

A small group of people encouraging shoppers to buy less this holiday season gathered outside Polo Park, Wal-Mart on Empress Street and Future Shop on St. James Street.

Members of the Buy Nothing Christmas campaign sang traditional carols with new anti-consumerism lyrics.

Relax with the family

The group handed out leaflets urging people to spend less time shopping and more time relaxing with family and friends.

The leaflet suggests making gifts, writing poetry or giving coupons for things like free babysitting rather than buying presents.

"You can have a meal together or bake cookies and do all sorts of things," said Aiden Enns, an organizer of the Christian-based campaign.

"You don't have to get stuck at the mall to show your love."

Another organizer, Anna Weier, said the season isn't about materialism.

"It's about spending time together and giving things that are more meaningful," she said.

"We buy so many things at Christmas time that we don't need just for the sake of buying them, because we need to have something that's under the tree that's wrapped to give to somebody."

The group also offered relief for stressed-out shoppers in the form of an old van, dubbed the Christmas Burnout Bus, that boasted chairs, candles and a pair of United Church ministers offering spiritual guidance.

Minister Kathy Douglas said rampant consumerism is harming families.

"Materialism is a huge problem," she said. "It's affecting our relationships and it's affecting our future."

No one ended up seeking sanctuary in the "mobile chapel" but Enns said Christmas can be a stressful time for many people.

"All this shopping and debt and consumerism can be very heavy and full of darkness," he said. "But if we back away from the shopping mentality, the light can enter in and we can enjoy the season -- the fun, the friends and the family."

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