OPINION: Is it time to stop giving gifts?
YESTERDAY I was told by the manager of our local Salvation Army store, Ann Johnson, she has to get a shipping container dropped off outside the store each year to accommodate all the post-Christmas donations.
On the one hand this is great. People are clearly recycling, cleaning out the cupboards, and a lot of the stuff someone else can use.
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
But some of these donations are undoubtedly regifted Christmas gifts.
The cultural expectation that you buy gifts for every relative you will have any contact with over Christmas is an onerous burden.
I know I am far from alone in feeling this way.
When you are forced into a shopping centre for that last-minute Christmas gift, in the glare of fluorescent lighting, confusing mirrors, jostled by other tired, frustrated shoppers, is it love you are feeling for that last-minute relative?
I don't know about you, but my emotions run a little darker.
So why do we keep doing it?
I have no answers to this. Like a lot of people I feel powerless in the face of the cultural expectation of relatives who feel entitled to receive a present from you.
It is such a fuss if you don't fulfil this expectation.
Ann Johnson said she's seen the clientele at the Salvation Army store change over the past few years.
Used to be, she said, it was bargain hunters, those looking for a cheap deal. Now she says there are more people struggling to make ends meet.
So you can say your regifted Christmas items will go on to serve an important function.
But this is a very crude way to reallocate resources.
Could we not donate vouchers instead? Or money?
Surely people who genuinely need to shop at the Salvation Army store would prefer a voucher to buy a jacket rather than have your aunt Betty's taste in jackets forced upon them.
- J. Bartrim