Tag Archives: consumer

Get Psych’d For Another Hallmark Holiday

It’s finally here. The day we’ve all been dreading. The holiday of love, or lack thereof, for all the lonely singles spending tonight alone, kissing a bottle of booze, in the lifeless arms of an otherwise empty couch. It’s a shitty day for most, and seems to serve no other purpose except to disappoint. Because even if you do have a Valentine that you call mine to share it with, and even if they do it right and give you the perfect, special night you always wanted, your special night will end as sure as it arrived, and tomorrow will resume the not-so-special, ordinary passing of your daily life, that is the rest of the year.

Personally, I’m relieved to be single. Tonight especially. It’s just unnecessary pressure. And ultimately, it’s a joke. It’s like, Honey, I love you so much, I bought you the same box of chocolates millions of other people bought their honeys, too. Or, Boo, you’re so one-of-a-kind, I bought you this mass-produced teddy bear, identical to millions of other ones just like it, bought for millions of other bitches, just like you. Or Baby, you’re so basic I bought you a dozen roses, the most unoriginal Valentine of all.

DriveByValentine DriveByValentine2 DriveByValentine3The worst are those roadside, drive-by Valentine tent-shops selling last minute shit. The gift you give your Valentine is a symbol of the way you feel about them. So unless you want me to think I’m some cheap shit you picked up on the side of the road, on a whim, don’t give me some cheap shit you picked up on the side of the road, on a whim. If you want to show me I’m on your mind, or that I’m worth your precious time, you better put some thought and time into my Valentine.

And this is where we’ve all been led astray. We’ve bred another Hallmark holiday. V-Day isn’t what it used to be. Crafting crappy, homemade Valentines. Cutting paper hearts out of construction paper. Misspelling the names of all my classmates. My parents helping. Exchanging them with everyone, even the kids I didn’t like. Receiving them from everyone, and not just boys trying to get at me. Those were the days.

So what changed?

I grew up. I got cooties. So did you. And just like everything else in life, Valentine’s Day was adulterated by adulthood. Once you find yourself romantically of-age, the Valentine game changes. Paper hearts remain uncut. Construction paper gathers dust. Classmates go unrecognized, unnoticed. Except the sexy ones, who get the works. Chocolates, teddy bears and roses.

But was it I who changed, or Valentine’s? Is V-Day still “what it used to be” when I was young for little ones today? Or has the holiday evolved across the map? One can only speculate and wonder. That is, unless one is, say, a teacher at a preschool, in which case that person knows for sure whether the true, authentic Valentine experience has been preserved in youth today. So we asked Teacher Sarah what she observed at last week’s Valentine festivities.

This just in, Teacher Sarah, reporting from local preschool, Redwood City, Ca:

I have some unfortunate news. There’s a lack of Valentine’s Day spirit at the preschool. However, it isn’t the kids. It’s parent participation that’s been lacking. The preschoolers are excited to exchange Valentines with their classmates. Sadly, actually exchanging said Valentines proves difficult when parents drop their kids off with unopened, unassembled, store-bought Valentines. Cheap boxes that contain 24 of the same impersonal, generic cards and candy. How are kids supposed to get excited for Valentine’s day if parents won’t take the time to learn the names of their classmates, which ones are their friends, and which ones aren’t their favorites, and teaching kids to give valentine’s to ALL their classmates. Cheap, store-bought, Hallmark Valentine’s are costing families experiences and memories that they’ll never get back.

Sad news, indeed. But just because the rest of the world outgrew hand-cut, home-crafted Valentines doesn’t mean I have to. Which is why I hand-crafted a couple dozen coffee-filter flowers (adapted from a DIY by Two Shades of Pink) and handed them out to regulars at work. Why not show some due love and appreciation for the people I see nearly every day? Why not carry on my non-romantic, 90’s-preschool Valentine tradition? If those were the days, why not today? What’s stopping me now? Nothing. So I did it. Fuck it.

Coffee filters drying after dying. Getting in touch with my inner Georgia O'Keefe
Coffee filters drying after dying. Getting in touch with my inner Georgia O’Keefe
CoffeeFilterFlowers
The remaining flowers, after my Valentine’s Day shift at the coffee shop, distributing to customers
My girl, modeling my home-made Valentines. The taking of this picture was totally consensual
My girl, modeling my home-made Valentines. The taking of this picture was totally consensual

And that’s why I actually got psych’d for Valentines this year.

Love,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Barista

The Fabric of Sustainability

Consumer driven holidays make paper. We the people pour billions of dollars into the holidays, and paper is made, indeed. But that’s not the paper that this blog post is about. Lots of paper is spent buying gifts, but lots of paper is also wasted wrapping them.

Every Christmas, you can find me scavenging the family room floor for reusable scraps of wrapping paper. When I unwrap my gifts, I carefully untape the paper and fold it neatly in a stack. I cringe every time someone else rips their wrapping open, because I know the paper is wasted. But whatever I can salvage, I do. I’ve hoarded quite the collection over the years. At this rate, I should never need to buy a another roll.

But I’m just one person, and most people don’t hoard used wrapping paper. The vast majority gets shoved in the recycling or garbage, or fireplace. But maybe it’s time for a new trend. A cute one, too. This year, instead of wrapping my presents in customary Christmas paper, I’m wrapping mine in fabric. Why? Because it cuts out so much of my waste. As usual, I will be found sifting the rubble of my family’s traditional Christmas-present-opening ritual for less-traditional leftover fabric, and scraps of other people’s wrapping paper for next year.FabricWrapUse what you have left of last year’s wrapping paper, by all means. But whenever you run out, instead of buying a new roll of paper, consider replacing it with a roll of fabric. Fabric comes in all varieties of prints and colors, just like paper, but unlike wrapping paper, fabric is washable and durable, and, thus, easily reusable.

Considering your gifts will vary in size, one disadvantage of using fabric is that, unlike paper, you cannot trim the fabric to fit it to each gift. Instead, I just fold it to fit it, and tie it up with a ribbon. Cutting the fabric to fit a gift this year means it’s less likely to fit another gift next year. If you decide to fabric-wrap, I recommend you keep an assortment of small, medium and large pieces. Large squares should be big enough to cover boxes. Medium should be big enough to cover folded clothes. Small should be big enough to cover something small. If you’re left with extra fabric, tuck it under the ribbon you use to tie it, to keep it folded tight. And voila, environmentally sustainable gift-wrapping.

Lastly, one thing that’s key to reusing wrapping fabric is actually getting it back after distributing your gifts. Just be weird and tell your friends and family you need to hoard your fabric back for future reuse. If you’re sending gifts long distance, or they won’t be opened in your presence, just ask their recipients to a) save the paper and return it back to you when they next see you, or b) save and reuse that shit themselves.FabricOutOfTown

Give the gift of sustainability. It’s that easy.

Holiday $hopping Challenge

Dear Consumers,

“The Holidays” are closing in on us. Whatever religion you practice, whichever god you worship, or don’t—regardless, chances are some gifts will be exchanged in your near future. Each year is punctuated by the same consumer spike, the ever-dreaded holiday shopping frenzy. The shopping is done, no doubt, in the selfless, giving spirit of people just trying to espress their appreciation for their loved ones by means of some material reward.

Care to make it interesting?

This year, I propose a challenge. In fact, I propose a few. Pick one and actually do it. I dare you. Twenty points to the house anybody who accepts my challenge(s). Twenty points!

 

NOT BUYIN’ IT

You may not spend any money on anything that you present to anyone this holiday season. This means you cannot purchase any gifts. Nor can you steal them; that would be cheating. You must hand-make every gift out of materials you either find or already own. Get crafty. If you don’t know how to get crafty, get drunk. See what happens. If you don’t have the resources to construct something practical, when in doubt, make modern art. Anything goes with modern art.

If you choose to accept this challenge, be prepared to set aside some time. Home-making things is tedious. Also, be prepared to present relatively shitty gifts. You’ll be forgiven, but your gifts might be a bit embarrassing. On the plus side, you won’t have to worry about your budget.

 

LEFTOVERS

Every gift you buy this season must be secondhand. You may buy anything you like, as long as it’s been bought by someone else before, used and/or forgotten about until it was no longer needed, donated, and then bought again, by you. This means nothing new had to be manufactured to satisfy your shopping list. Buying secondhand is more sustainable because it reduces our need to produce new stuff where old stuff can still suffice. Plus, previous ownership and disownership adds intrigue and character.

 

NOT TRENDING THIS SEASON

Every gift you give this season must be totally unique. Custom. Original. One of a kind. As uncommon as the individual receiving it. More and more of this world is mass-produced. Don’t risk buying someone the same thing somebody else already bought them (or worse yet, discovering that somebody-else scored a better deal). Eliminate this hazard altogether by purchasing something there is only one of. Something handmade, perhaps, not necessarily by you. Hint: this is a solid opportunity to support some of your local artists.