Guest Column

I did all my Christmas shopping with one EFT

2016-12-22 08:01

Susan Erasmus

So what do you give someone for Christmas who has everything they need? Absolutely nothing, our family has decided.

That doesn’t mean we won’t be celebrating, or that we will be spending Christmas separately, miserably lounging in front of the TV with a takeaway.

It’s just that we are in the fortunate position that we can say there isn’t really anything basic that we desperately need. A few years ago already we became practical with Christmas gifts. That translated into actually asking someone what they needed/wanted before spending any money on their gift. This meant gifts such as bath towels, a decent cooking pot, a fire extinguisher for the car, a contribution for a new duvet cover – you get the idea.

In a country where thousands and thousands of people are in real need, it doesn’t make sense to spend cash on more pretty soaps, more olive oil, imported chocolates, more trinkets and gadgets that end up gathering dust at the back of drawers. And no, your love for someone is not reflected by the size of the Christmas present you give them, whatever the retailers would like you to believe.

Many people go into debt for months because of what they spend on Christmas gifts. That just doesn’t work for me.

Right, it’s nice to see the heap under the Christmas tree. I don’t think one ever loses that sense of excitement, no matter how old you are. The tree decorations, the lights, the candles, the table decorations – but you know what? We can still have all of that – just no presents.

A gift of charity

My brother came up with the idea that in lieu of presents, we should each sponsor a child for 2 meals per school day for a year through the Peninsula School Feeding Association. That’s R395 per person. If you’re feeling flush, you can sponsor more than one. 

Or else you can give a donation to the Association for Voluntary Sterilization, which emphasises the benefits of smaller families to both men and women. In making these operations possible, it enables people to decide not to have a child they are forced to send to school on an empty stomach, as they cannot afford to feed it.

The Christmas crush

For the family Christmas meal, 90% of the shopping can be done weeks before. The sight from the M5 of the crowds on Black Friday, pushing to get into shops in Access Park, made me feel quite edgy at the prospect of having to do any Christmas shopping.

There are few bigger antidotes to the Christmas spirit than an overcrowded shopping centre with Christmas carols blaring from the loudspeakers. Just the sound of Boney M makes a muscle under my left eye twitch involuntarily. (Just how long can this go on for? It feels like it’s been decades, but sure enough, last week, there they were again.)

Right, I know one can also do online shopping, and have the stuff delivered to your door, but not everyone is that organised. And the single question on after every product tells a story all of its own: “Will I get it for Christmas?” Take a look at the shops on the 24th of December to see how many people were organised enough to do their shopping in November, or online.

The one exception to this new present-less dispensation will be the four-year-old nephew. No presents at Christmas, however good the reason, is not something anyone can explain to such a young child.

On the day itself, we will play the Secret Santa game, where each person brings a one-size-fits-all gift costing no more than R30, which in itself forces one to be very creative and inventive.

And if we feel ever so slightly deprived by not getting anything on the day, our Christmas presents will be the thought of a kid out there, six months from now, who doesn’t have to go hungry in the middle of the winter. And that’s not something anyone can wrap.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    shopping  |  christmas

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