Holiday Mania Approaches: Take Control

September 30th, 2008

Outside it may be Indian Summer, but step foot into your local stores and you may think we’re just days away from Halloween or even Christmas.

But the fact is, the holidays are not here yet. They’re actually a long way off. This means that you have time to give some thought to how YOU want to spend the holidays. What type of traditions would you like to establish in your family?

Every year we hear people complaining about the commercialization of the holidays. So many of us wish there was something we could do to turn the clock back to the simpler days of years past. There is something you can do – as a parent, you’re in control of what traditions are introduced to your family. It’s never too late to start anew.

Take Halloween. What used to be a simple holiday dedicated to trick-or-treating and bobbing for apples has morphed into a commercial extravaganza featuring everything from outdoor electric light displays to “gift bags” at Halloween parties. Have kids changed so much in a generation that candy is no longer a big enough treat at Halloween?

No, it’s not the kids that have changed. It’s the marketing messages that have changed. What was once a simple holiday aimed at children has now become yet another holiday extravaganza full of sophisticated marketing messages urging adults to buy, buy, buy more cheap and tacky stuff that somehow promises to make our holidays all the happier. But the truth is, the only things this junk will do is pollute our earth and empty our pocketbooks.

If you’re looking for some tips and tricks on how to fight consumerism this holiday season, check out these resources:
- Center for A New American Dream, which has loads of resources about fighting excess commercialism;
- GreenHalloween.org, which has tips on going green at school and at home;
and be sure to visit the Green Moms Carnival on Monday over at Green Bean Dreams. My sisters in arms will be posting about ways you can help retake the holiday spirit by fighting holiday commercialism.

How will you plan to celebrate Halloween this year? Leave a comment and share!

Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

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10 Responses to “Holiday Mania Approaches: Take Control”

  1. Anna (Green Talk) on September 30, 2008 8:24 pm

    It is amazing how so much has changed since we were kids. Simple holidays have become cash register’s dreams, playing in your backyard has become scheduled play dates and activities, and a backyard pick up game has become a year long commitment for a particular sport.

    Have we lost the art of having fun?

    Amen, sister. You describe these changes so well, Anna. I think the kids are still having fun, but what we have lost is the ability to appreciate simplicity. Everything now is so materialistic – I still can’t get over the fact that kids expect presents (aka gift bags) for showing up at parties! And teachers and parenting experts report that children today are “less resilient” because they have no free time to figure out how to deal with problems on their own. There’s always a coach, teacher, parent, or babysitter hanging around….I’m lucky, I live in a pretty retro neighborhood where kids do still play in the backyard and have pick-up games of soccer at the bus stop…but it’s not like it was when I was growing up, that’s for sure. Thanks for your comment, Anna!

  2. Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama on September 30, 2008 8:24 pm

    I plan on sticking to some “old fashioned” Halloween activities. We’re making shrunken apples heads, just like I used to make with my mom. We’re making orange and black garland and spooky critter shapes out of construction paper. My kids have store bought costumes – I’m far from perfect – but we’re trying to make memories this Holiday season more than buy the “in” toy.

    Sounds cool, Jennifer! I’d love to learn more about those shrunken apple heads – I’ve never heard of that! I would love to find a barn somewhere where we could go apple bobbing, just like I used to do. I described the apple bobbing tradition to Big Boy and he said it sounded “disgusting.” But I bet he would get over it! :) — Lynn

  3. Jenn (The Green Parent) on October 1, 2008 4:05 am

    I couldn’t agree more Lynn (and Anna)! A lot of people think that if you’re trying to have a simpler, greener holiday than you are some kind of Scrooge that doesn’t want to have fun. But in reality, I ONLY want to have fun, and I don’t want it to get lost in piles of junky decorations, stressful holiday commitments, and unwanted holiday gifts.

    Another spiritual sister….yes, Jenn, yes! It’s amazing how much energy it can take to convince people that you really are not into all that ….STUFF! Thanks for sharing, Jenn! — Lynn

  4. MamaBird/SurelyYouNest on October 1, 2008 4:19 am

    Maybe the market bottoming out will put a damper on new Cinderella’s-coach type displays. My grandparents developed their stewardship by growing up with nothing and then living through the Depression. Caring for your resources may be a natural byproduct of tough times….

    Exactly, MamaBird! My father was born in 1916 (he had me very late in life!), so he was very much of that era. I grew up with aluminum foil being re-used constantly and things being repaired out in his workshop. Very often I think about how he would react to today’s throw-away society. But still, let’s hope things don’t get THAT bad. Actually, I’m doing so much work with eco-entrepreneurs that I’m really jazzed about the green collar jobs boom that’s heading our way. Thanks for your wonderful comments, as always, Jess! — Lynn

  5. Lisa on October 1, 2008 7:47 am

    I posted a blog about this. I don’t have kids which I think makes it all easier.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I think it does make it easier! But still, you have to deal with other people’s kids….relatives, etc, right? I LOVE the name and art on your blog…so cute…Retro Housewife Goes Green! Check it out, folks! — Lynn

  6. Diane MacEachern on October 5, 2008 7:00 am

    One thing that helped me keep the holidays under control and more free of commercialism is not having the television on. We had one tv, and most of the time the kids were growing up it was in our bedroom. They were busy Saturday mornings and didn’t watch a lot of cartoons, so were thankfully spared from getting bombarded with messages about junk they should get during the holidays. I often ran into parents who were frantic about getting their hands on the latest tchochke, and I had no idea it was even on the market.

    Yes, Diane, good point. We only allow PBS and videos/DVDs at our home on our one TV (soon to be made obsolete by the digital TV transition!) but my older boy still picks up on a lot of consumer messages from his friends and believe it or not, from the school. I knew I was in for it when at orientation night a teacher said they use this example to teach the first graders the difference between needs and wants: Do you want a video game or do you need a video game? Ai yi, yi…Lynn

  7. Green Bean on October 5, 2008 9:10 pm

    So true! We haven’t changed that much in a generation and, when you read the kids books, they still celebrate the simple stuff like bobbing for apples.

    Exactly! Kind of like “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” eh…? — Lynn

  8. Lynn on October 11, 2008 7:23 pm

    I actually talk in our book “Celebrate Green!” about how when I was a child, a piece of candy was a TREAT! I mean we never had access to candy unless it was at a birthday party or Halloween. There wasn’t candy in school (our grandson’s teacher gives it out for good behavior!) or at any friends’ homes. We weren’t inhaling high fructose corn syrup because most things were made from scratch (OK, I admit to being old, but we kept it this way with our kids too). So Halloween really was a treat for us. But today kids are exposed to so many sweets that Halloween ceases to be special. In our experience at giving out thousands of alternatives to conventional candy at last year’s Green Halloween events, we didn’t have a single child who complained. I’m convinced it’s because they don’t care nearly as much about getting candy as their parents do. You all are doing a great job for your kids and your communities.

  9. Holiday Hypermarket on October 15, 2008 3:47 am

    It seems to me that Christmas is getting promoted earlier and earlier every year. Yesterday I saw a christmas commercial – in October!

  10. Sharon Greenspan on October 17, 2008 6:38 am

    Halloween. What are some good non-food items? I’m LMAO because I just heard a Trader Joe commercial which said that ‘packaged candy is so last year. What’s hot this year is soup broth. Yes, it comes in resealable containers. Kids love it as a base for soups. You’ll be the talk of the town.’ —yeah, talk of the town alright. Too funny! Or am I seriously out of touch?!?!

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