It happened where I live, on the first of November. The coffee shop which I frequented had their Christmas drinks ‘go live’, which is something that I can get behind as they are very delicious. But unfortunately, along with that with that came the Christmas jumpers, antler boppers and the music…oh, the music. The children in the school in which I teach, know me as a Scrooge; when asked if I enjoy Christmas, I always say ‘no’ and they always presume that I hate its entirety. I usually don’t take the time to explain my thoughts about this time of year, but I suppose that this year, with my new-found Veganism, compassion has been my buzzword, and with this new sense of love and compassion, I finally feel the need to explain my distaste for the season.
I guess the coffee shop scenario kind of explains it; the fact that the season starts in November, and that is purely for profit. Suddenly, we are propelled into a flurry of ‘sales’ and ‘bargains’ and for some bizarre reason in Great Britain, we’ve adopted the insanity of Black Friday. It’s the sense that one extra helping of mass-produced, often inhumane processed food ‘won’t hurt’, it’s buying an extra £50 of presents just in case the kids aren’t satisfied with what you’ve bought them, it’s squeezing people around the confines of a table and being on our best behaviour, it’s wish lists and pressure, it’s the obsessive mantra of ‘treat yourself, it’s Christmas’ – like that waiver covers a multitude of sins. It makes me feel claustrophobic and tight-chested.
This year, I changed my life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still have a wish list and I still end up inevitably buying myself some treats as I buy presents for others – I fall short of my own expectations frequently. However, this does not mean that my ideals are not important or something that I should give up on aspiring to follow. Part of my lifestyle change has resulted in me and my husband committing to ‘tithe’ a proportion of our income to charity every month. This is not a religious observance and it is not in the hope that karma is going to be kind to us. It is not some kind of attention seeking act so all of our friends see how pious we are. It is not something that we are smug about. It is a community act, designed to help us spend the money that we obtain more responsibly with the outcome of helping as many charities that we can in the process.
Our charities have been chosen by friends, friends of friends, inspired by Facebook posts, YouTube videos, and our own life experiences. Sometimes they tie in with awareness days. There are no rules or reason to our choices; there is an abundance of charities just waiting for donations. This year, we have raised money for The UK Sepsis Trust, Brainwave, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, Coram Voic,e and many more. We have invited our friends to join us in supporting these charities simply by setting up a Facebook page and linking it to the Just Giving website.
Doing this has made us think about causes that we want to help, and in some cases have introduced us to new causes that we knew little about. For me, it has stirred up passion about causes that I have never really cared about, let alone actively helped. I want to instill this feeling in others and at times this has worked. Sometimes, however it has not. Perhaps it looks too ‘preachy’, perhaps too ‘holier than thou’. Perhaps it is a sincere lack of money, but the beauty of tithing is that you can set it to fall in line with what you can actually afford to give, no matter how small it is. This inspired the name of our charity collective: Little Change.
At this time of year, when there is so much waste, in food and in money, I urge you to do what you can to help alleviate this greed. Please choose presents which are made with care and compassion from companies that respect animals and humans. Buy charity Christmas cards, instead of regular ones. Try to buy only the food that you really need and please do the same when buying presents. Small changes like this are ways that you can do your part in being responsible partiers this year. Most of all, please pledge to do something responsible with your money this Christmas, and beyond. This could be buy joining us in our endeavour, or making your own community tithing group. Christmas is of course a time to be merry and to give. Please do so responsibly, with love.
Little Change: https://www.facebook.com/littlechangeuk/?fref=ts