Satchelnomics: Making sense of fatuous seasonal spending

By Emma Plant

Sitting irreverently within the landscape of Australian culture is a little thing we Western women have a love/hate relationship with. It arrives at this exact time of the year (nee sooner every season) in the guise of ‘Christmas giving’. 'Tis the season to be giving, 'tis the season of plenty and abundance, 'tis the season of unashamed materialism.

“Bah Humbug” you say! Get off your moral high horse and stop scrooging around ruining the giving season for the rest of us. True, there is nothing wrong with giving. In fact, Christmas time, regardless of your beliefs, affords people the chance to participate in collective, heartfelt altruism (to an extent). The real issue is our unquenchable desire for stuff. While Christmas can serve as a selfless season, it can also act as a magnifying glass that highlights our petty human greed.

Christmas consuming is tipped to reach $27.4 billion this year, rising 3.3% from 2010. IBISWorld research estimates the average capital spend per consumer will sit at approximately $1213. Yikes! A year ago during Live Aid concerts Sir Bob Geldoff put foreword an estimate that world hunger could be stopped with $40 billion. As it stands, that estimate is still valid. Hmmm, pockets full of pennies for presents, accompanied with a brisk (no eye-contact) walk past the World Vision stand at the shopping center.

The spell of materialism is intoxicating. Things, claptrap and balderdash will fill that hole in our existence. Or so we want to believe. Why is it so very hard to resist the call to take up more possessions? Why on earth do we throw our discretionary expenditure inhibitions into the wind come Yule time? If someone gifts you with a charity donation instead of a ‘real present’ are you a wee bit bummed? Do you follow the ‘one for them, one for me’ policy?

Perhaps the reason Australian women have such a love/hate relationship with Christmas time is because of the guilt we harbor. Deep down, under our new clothes, beneath our new body creams and perfume is a niggling anxiety about the fact we are a touch greedy, and our new things are not making us feel any better about it.

Emma @ Girl With a Satchel