Hayley Matthews: Drowning in stuff, it's time to rethink Christmas

I'm on the Christmas wind-down now. All the presents have been opened, all the food has been eaten and all of the ­alcohol has been guzzled.

Friday, 29th December 2017, 6:00 am
Christmas may be over for the kids but the boxes will be put to good use

I’m always left with that feeling of guilt after consuming so much food and buying/giving so many material possessions, mainly because it feels slightly excessive, just for one day.

The gifts, food waste and numerous empty cardboard boxes lying around are all signs of how unaware we’ve become of our excessive ways. I feel we give for the sake of giving and receive because we’d be a bit hacked off if we didn’t get anything in return, no matter how many times we tell ourselves “we don’t give to receive”. It all gets too much for me sometimes. All the stuff we have and want, but does having stuff make us happy? Is it just down to being greedy? And are we becoming a lot greedier?

I specifically said to my partner not get me anything because, genuinely, I don’t need anything, not because I have loads, just because I’m sick of excessive stuff. Plastic stuff, smelly stuff, clothes stuff, chocolate stuff and just general stuff! What means more to me is spending time with those I love, having a fun day and spending it making happy memories. The most precious moments for me during the Christmas period were doing things like stopping off at Soutra Hill as the sun was coming down to take a family selfie in the snow, cuddling up on the sofa watching the movie Elf and playing “rollercoasters” with a cardboard box that our folding trike had come in.

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Those moments far outweigh opening the most expensive gifts in the world. I can’t remember playing with boxes when I was young but my son loves to play with them and I think that it’s great for their imaginations to turn a box into a ghost train or a rollercoaster to get from room to room. The folding trike box has been modified to “pimp my ride status” and many a fun time has been had with it. The folding trike has been a godsend present, because if you’ve ever tried to get on a bus after a trip around Edinburgh’s Christmas Market with a big buggy, you’ve probably ripped your hair out too. Folding up the trike meant I didn’t have a nervous breakdown after seeing five buses go past with their buggy spaces full, whilst attending to a screaming child and holding in a pee pee. This item has been gladly used and is my one exception to receiving presents this year.

I think next year I’ll just buy one item that we really need and give the boxes to the kids, keeping my consumerism to a minimum. Kidding, obviously, I’m not a complete Scrooge.

However, I do genuinely think we have too much stuff, so to complete my Christmas wind-down I’m doing my best to have a clear-out, donating lot of goods to charity and recycling the rest.

I feel cluttered when there’s too much stuff around me. My house is far from minimalist (you just need to take a look in the hall cupboard to see all the wellies, jackets and bags rammed in it) but I do always feel so much ­better after a post-Christmas clear-out. There seems to have been an influx of plastic descending on us this year so to recycle, reuse and clear out, I always find, gives me the clarity and head space that I need to get through January.