I have a confession: I hardly bought Christmas presents this year.
Don’t get me wrong, my ass Sikh adores this glittering Christian holiday, so I gave people gifts, and good ones. I gave my sister sweet earrings, a childhood friend a drug-scented candle, and my mom’s boyfriend a copy of a photo book. But I didn’t actually buy any of those things. I arranged them.
Giving again is considered distasteful. It is assumed that a used gift means less than a new one, and that if the gift is not newly purchased, no deep consideration is required to choose. But I’m here to say it’s stupid. We give gifts to love our loved ones, not to show off our spending skills (usually, at least). And there is no reason that a previously loved thing cannot make someone happy, and at the same time alleviate the burden to overproduction puts on the planet.
It’s not that I passed on gifts that were bullshit. The earrings I got as a gift from my girlfriend last year and I loved them, so I kept them around me, but my ears aren’t pierced and probably never will. The scented candle was given to me as well, but I’m not in its powdery scent. And the photo book was mine and I liked it, but I don’t need it anymore, so I’m passing it on to someone else who can appreciate it.
Transferring unwanted or already loved gifts is also a more sustainable option. At least it’s a hell of a lot better than storing unnecessary garbage in our apartments until we finally decide to separate and throw it in the trash, send it to a landfill or to a garbage incinerator where it’s destined to contribute to poisonous and global warming.
Re-giving – or any other personal choice regarding Christmas gifts in this regard – will not fundamentally address the political problems that have led to our global crisis of waste and overproduction. In our global economy, things – clothes, candles, anything else – are not done to satisfy a certain amount, but to collect the greatest profit, and the transfer of a few stray products will not change that whole system. The big problem is not present, it is the motive of earning, honey.
But given the choice, I’d rather not just throw something away if I know someone else might want it. I also donate my lightly used items, but it’s also nice to smile at someone you like.
How much is it worth, I do not only agree with giving previously presented gifts, but also with receiving them. Some of the best gifts I’ve ever received – jewelry, pottery, a table, a guitar pedal – are things the giver has already used.
Most people who celebrate Christmas by now have certainly opened their presents. But you can keep a rested spirit by continuing to carry things on. Give away that cup your mom gave you that you don’t need because your closet is too crowded or that sweater that doesn’t suit you. Hell, give things that works suit you too, when you’re done with that. Not to be all Marie Kondo, but will you really read that book again or will you still wear that dress in the back of your closet that makes you sick? Give it to a friend you know he’ll enjoy, and who might find it cool to lend it to you on a night when we can all get out in groups safely again. You will free up some space in your home, and you will save some space during the trash. And maybe you will feel good too.