Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Holiday Planning and Consumerism

Hello Friends,

I hope you're all doing well. Yuletide is just around the corner. It's a fun time of year! I celebrate the Pagan holidays and the traditional ones. Since we're in savings mode, Alex and I decided on no gifts for the holidays - including our birthdays which fall in January and February!

So instead I'm celebrating with food. This really brings out my creative side. Not only for the menus, but for the cost - I need to be frugal!!

Most of you know I do a monthly shopping list. This means I plan a month's worth of meals according to the shopping flyers. Then Alex and I spend one grueling day a month in the "flats" shopping and driving; then we're safe in the mountains and free from being around society for another 30 glorious days! :)

I've pretty much planned every holiday meal so far:

December 21: Yule
December 24: Christmas Eve
December 25: Christmas
December 31: New Year's Eve
January 1: New Year's Day
January 2: Twelfth Night.

Lots of fun food, drink and sweets planned! What's your holiday season looking like? Alex and I don't have any family, nor do we really have close friends, so we spend all of our time together and with the furballs. This pretty much eliminates all stressors for us and we can enjoy each day as it comes. I hope you don't deal with holiday's not fun. I've been there and I won't do that again - EVER!!

Another subject I wanted to discuss is consumerism. Let's face it, though a lot of us would LOVE to live like pioneers, off the land, off the grid, self-sufficient etc...we were born in a modern world. I personally LOVE plumbing and electricity! :) And I love my internet. But...I still try to make do with what I have, not buy new things unless it's absolutely essential. Alex and I are striving for more self-sufficiency, but we will always rely on some supplier or another for something in this modern world.

I can give you countless examples of my beef with companies. I don't know how many times I opened up a container of milk to find it had already gone sour WELL before the expiry date. I write to companies all the time when their products are mediocre and I always get replies - usually in the form of a coupon or refund. In this case, I wrote to Quebon because of the milk going sour. I got the standard reply and some coupons in the mail. YES, it helps the budget and I am grateful for that...but what is really being done about this? The companies seem to be in this mind-frame that throwing money at people will just shut them up. Are they REALLY practicing sound quality control? I'm not an alarmist, but gosh...we really do rely a little too much on other people for safe products. 

Another great example I can give you happened this week. We only recently were able to drink the water here in our well. Before it wasn't in good shape and now it's testing fine. So before now, we had to purchase our water. To make life easier, we'd invested about $100 towards a counter top water dispenser. A few months after purchase, it leaked, so we had to fight Amazon to get a replacement because it was one or two days past their 3-month return period. 

We were drinking that - yuck!

Now, a year later, the tubes feeding the water from the jug started to deteriorate, causing little bits of plastic to float in the drinking water. Amazon wouldn't do anything so I actually wrote to the company asking them to look into the quality control of the plastic tubing in their water dispensers. I wrote a very thoughtful email, including photos of the deteriorating tubes, the plastic "floaties" and a description of our disappointment in the product. I honestly wasn't expecting much and didn't ask for anything either. This was their reply:


Your order for replacement unit is being processed. Please allow 5-7 business days for delivery.

Thank you"

No standard "we are sorry" "Dear Ms. Frances"...not even the name of a representative after the "Thank you" - just a "signature" of the company. Really? Are companies so used to complaints about their crappy items that they can't even bother to personalize a response anymore? And you're sending me an entirely new unit? How is this really going to change the quality of the item that will likely deteriorate in another year's time?

I have to tell you my friends, I feel weird about this. They are simply sending me a new unit that I didn't even ask shut me up again? Of course beggars can't be choosers and I always appreciate replacement items and coupons, but this trend is bothersome.

It's almost like it gives the companies a free pass to sell crap because of their "very generous" return policies. 

As a Pagan, I try my best to be gentle with the Earth. I try to re-use, recycle, re-vamp or go without as much as possible. I try not to use non-biodegradable items. I'm not perfect by any stretch. But the continuous replacement of crappily made is this honouring Nature and the environment? It bothered me to the point where I replied asking them NOT to send me a new unit. But I didn't get any response so I have no idea if it's been sent or not.

Anyway, that was bothering me and I needed to vent about it!! Any thoughts?

PS: I've noticed the "Followers" gadget isn't showing up at all on any of my blogs anymore, same with you guys?


Nicole Thomas said...

I totally agree with you, the trent is bothersome. Noone seems to care about quality. They don't take pride in their own product ... noone cares if its shitty, noone even tries to improve anything. Everything is about being cheap, fast, and obviously everything is easily replaceable. There is no connection to anything that I believe in.
I know I am blessed with so many wonderful things ... it almost feels like an insult that company force their shitty products on our home where things are being cared for with love, where we are proud of what we do and have ... not much ... but that is not what counts.
That e.mail response would have made me angry as well.
Yule ... we do have two seperate celebrations in this house. One starts with the winter solstice ... we try to focus for a little while on the magic of this season ... on our little family on our land, our animals and our blessings. Lots of little rituals in nature and crafts with materials that we dig up from under the snow.
And Christmas ... and yes ... I do have to admit it is a little stressful. Family will come christmas eve, we will have Turkey dinner. Us adults will open presents after the kids are in bed. Then the 25th is all about the kids ... its always a fun day. The little bit of stress is easily handled with a bottle of red wine ;)
I remember your meals from the past ... can't wait to see your menue ❤

Rain said...

Hi Nik :) I agree with what you said about not feeling connected to this modern world and this awful trend of poor quality, quick, easy, cheap and replaceable. It doesn't feel good but I hate that I have to rely on these products too. Once in a while we are able to purchase a great quality item, but it's usually from a local artisan who puts time, effort and pride into his/her work. It's always more expensive, but it's worth the price. Like those nice cutting boards we bought a few years ago. They are so well made and we take such good care of them, they will last a lifetime. I think pride doesn't exist anymore with manufacturers...even suppliers of services. Bell's attitude is that if you have an issue with your internet, it must be YOUR fault, not their crappy set up and wiring. It's very frustrating.

I hope that we can move further and further away from consumerism as we become more self-sufficient, but we will always have to rely on it in some form or another.

I have some Yule traditions and rituals as well. I'm trying to do some new things this year too, but like you, it's mainly concentrated around the blessings of the home, family and Nature.

I know that family is very important to some people so I hope I'm not being offensive, but I guess in my case, I'm GLAD the only family I have is Alex and the furries. My former family was the cause of all anxiety, toxicity and stress which made for miserable holidays. Now they are pleasant. I celebrate Christmas for the fun of it, for the festivity of the season, I guess it's like an extension of Yule for me! Make sure you have an extra bottle of wine sis. ;)

I think the menu will be much like the past years. I wanted to try some new recipes, but we're in frugal mode so I'm trying to make sure whatever I make fits into the budget. It'll still be lots of comfort food, fondues and a raclette for New Year's eve I think!!

wisps of words said...

Are you a *long way, away* from big distribution points, for perishable products like milk? I'm not saying, that is any excuse for food going bad. Just wondering.... Or is this the same, all over Canada?

Our milk comes from area dairies, so it's quite good. It only goes *bad* if I don't use it, soon enough.

Things *breaking* and etc... And simply replace, replace, replace... Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... *Disposable Economy*!!! ... Just "throw it away."

Problem is, there is no *AWAY*!!!!...



wisps of words said...

General Holiday Push, to buy, buy, buy!!!!

I got a book, years ago... "Turn Off The Christmas Machine"... And it is even more valid, today. I have done so, as much as possible. I caused the family custom of everyone exchanging gifts, to cease. Now, when we gather here, noon-ish on Christmas Day, only gifts given, are for Grand Children. What a money/stress saver, that was!

When *forced* to view adds on tv, urging people to buy, buy, buy for the Holidays, they actually almost make me physically sick. -sighhhh- These adds are so blatant, and insistent, and awful.

So happy that you have done this, for the 2 of you, and can enjoy the fun of the Yuletide Season, without the stress, and spend, spend, spend.



Another pet peeve is... The advertising/magazine articles push, to make The Perrrrrfect Christmas!!! The stress on Woman-of-the-house, to do this. -sigh-sigh-sigh-

Do the little question piece, at the top of your post... Find out what makes you happy. And do it. ,-) Even if you have to drag some people along, kicking and screaming, to do it!!!!!!! :-)))))))))

wisps of words said...

Hmmmmm... Looks like I sort of messed up that last comment. ,-)

But it says what I wanted to say, so you can get my meaning. Even if it's not necessarily in order. LOL


Lisa said...

Hi Rain,
This is so true, we are definitely a throw away society. The cost to repair items often is higher than the cost to just throw out and replace with new unfortunately! I so wish that US and other countries could follow Sweden's lead in recycling and burning garbage for energy:

Martha said...

I totally agree with you, Rain! That's what companies do these days. Throw money at people to shut them up. But it doesn't change the fact that the item is still crappy and the next person will end up with the same problem. And then complain. And get a refund/replacement. As nauseum... They don't make quality products anymore. Now it's all about creating quickly, cheaply, so that companies can maximize their profits. And the landfills keep filling up... We are not honouring Mother Earth and eventually she'll get fed up with us.

baili said...

This is so wonderful that even in your saving mode your creativity in cooking looks remarkable dear Rain!

I am really sorry for problems you are facing about products!

Same situation seems everywhere now days.
I'm news we often see authority raide which result nothing.

Wishing you a happy beautiful peaceful days ahead my friend

Magic Love Crow said...

I totally agree with you Rain! But, I have to admit, just this past week, I got a great response, from a Canadian leather company in Toronto, called Brave. I treated myself to a lariat, and the silver part was lose. They called me back, apologized and told me another neck piece is being made and sent out to me. I thanked them very much. So nice to talk to someone and get customer service! Hang in there!! Big Hugs!

NanaDiana said...

I remember as a kid we used up, reused or did without unnecessary items. Our gift exchanges have gone way down over the years and we now make gifts for others or repurpose.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season with your family- xo Diana

ps- Thank you for popping by my blog and leaving a sweet comment.

Pam Jackson said...

I have waste but on a whole I do more than my share of recycling. Plus I recycle items into crafts that I make. I do however recycle a lot of plastic bottles cause even though we are told our water is safe to drink, I can tell the difference in the taste from bottle. Sorry you have had to go through that with that company, but like I have stated more times then not, companies have NO CUSTOMER SERVICES. Being that the better part of my working life was donated to customer relations I am a believer of customer service! I let companies no really fast if I think their customer service sucks!

Toni said...

Rain, It really is incredible how lacking businesses are in quality and customer service. Makes me want to scream but instead I write letters. Not only do I write to the offending company but I also write letters to advertisers (radio, tv, magazines, etc). Probably end up in the trash but then I can put it behind me!

Have you tried a Brita? I used one for years and just put water in glass bottles when pitcher was done filtering. Only did it when the water smelled of bleach; no longer a problem where we live.

We are taking a break from Christmas this year, also kept to ourselves at Thanksgiving. In fact, we wore pajamas all day on Thanksgiving and ate soup.

Still going through boxes and boxes of stuff so too distracted to cook. Our Christmas will probably be a frozen chicken pot pie or frozen pizza. I really can't wait until I feel like playing in the kitchen again.

Toni said...

p.s. This time of year does stress me out terribly. The guy and I decided that next year we are going to send all the grandkids a gift card and let them buy their own 'stuff'. My favorite holiday is really Presidents Day in February. No stress, no expectations!

Rain said...

Hi Wisps of Words :) No, we're not a long way from anything. Actually right now I can walk to a grocery store if I wanted to, but the prices are outrageous, and there is a problem here in Quebec with English vs. French hatred. If you're English in Quebec, gawd help you. The owner of that grocery store made a remark one time about English people while I was at the cash and I never went back. Disposable Economy is right. I like that "Turn off the Christmas Machine"...this whole thing is a great marketing tool for profit isn't it? With ads and advertising, people get so caught up. I'm glad you turned off the machine!!

Rain said...

Hi Lisa :) Thanks for that link, the Swedes know what they are doing that's for sure. It's sad that it's not a priority here in North America. And you're right, in fact, I was guilty of that once. I bought a new home printer because just buying new ink cost double the price of the printer. That was the first and last time I was so irresponsible. I do have a printer, but use it very sparingly.

Rain said...

Hi Martha :) Money and greed huh? That's what makes our modern world go around. We got the replacement water dispenser and it's sitting in the basement in the box it came in. I agree, Mother Earth will fight back and society will regret it at some point. Sad though. :(

Rain said...

Hi Baili :) It seems like this consumerism is the same everywhere. As long as people like us are aware of it, we can try to avoid it, but most people just don't care enough I guess. Oh I always wish you beautiful, peaceful days too Baili! :) xx

Rain said...

Hi Stacy :) That's great about that company, and yes, we've had some good experiences too, but I'd say the majority of the companies just want to get rid of the problem quickly unfortunately. Customer service, I mean REAL customer service, it's a rare thing these days!!

Rain said...

Hi Diana :) That's wonderful that you've down-scaled the Christmas frenzy! I LOVE homemade gifts, I don't know that many people appreciate them as much! That's our philosophy too, use it up, reuse it or do without! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season too!! xx

Rain said...

Hi Pam :) You are the QUEEN of re-purposing!!! :) I love seeing how you re-invent things that you find. I can tell the difference between tap water and bottled water too. In fact I did a PH test on the tap vs. several different brands of bottled water. There are some I can't even drink, like Naya, the PH is so low that it's not acidic enough for me and causes me dry throat. Interesting to learn about stuff like this. The tap water is higher in PH so I can drink it without any problems. I also find bottled water sweeter, which I can't stand! Good for you for standing your ground! I voice myself too, though I'm sure most of them don't take it seriously! :)

Rain said...

Hi Toni :) So nice to see your comment! :) I agree, I'm sure most of my complaints end up in the trash too, but yes, I feel better having voiced my complaint! Actually we have had poor well water for a long time, but it tested fine a few months back and we do use a Brita. It changes the PH just slightly but we don't get all the rust and the water is delicious. I HATED buying water, it feels wrong. I'm glad you're taking a break from the holidays, I think sometimes it's a great idea. For us, it's just me and Alex so I do lots of cooking and decorating, but if I were still back in the big family stress-out mode, I'd probably not be able to handle it. Gift cards are a GREAT gift! Easy on you and those you send them too get to pick their own stuff! I did that one year way back when! Although one family member always had to pick something apart and said I was "lazy"...I told her, okay, then give me back the gift card lol...she kept it of course, hee hee...INGRATE!! ;)

The Happy Whisk said...

I don't know about the followers gadget as I removed it from my blog a long time ago. But you might be able to pull it back up going into layout and such.

Love that you're celebrating with food!

Rain said...

Hi Ivy :) I've tried to replace that Followers gadget a few times, but it just disappears so I've given up! I LOVE to celebrate with food!!! :)

DUTA said...

'Celebrating with food' sounds lovely, if you don't have to watch your weight. I do have to watch it, otherwise I get in trouble with my knees.
I definitely agree with your views on consumerism and the insensitivity of companies. I wish I knew the right way to handle them!

Rain said...

Hi Duta, thanks for visiting. :) Yes, you're right, celebrating with food can get me in trouble too! :) I make sure to exercise every day to keep myself relatively in good shape!! I haven't yet figured out how to handle these awful companies...actually the water cooler arrived by courier this's sitting in the box in the basement. What a waste.

Connie said...

We stopped the Christmas override a few years ago. Steve and I do not give each other gifts, but instead we each plan a date night. As for our daughter and granddaughter's this year we just sent a check and told them they didn't need more stuff so we wanted them to dress up and go to they favorite restaurant and out to a movie or some fun event. making memories and sending time together is the best gift of all :)
What does Christmas mean to me? It's just a reminder of the gift of salvation and the birth of the child that made it possible. It's what makes life bearable when times are bad and gives me hope for the future. Am I happy? . . . well, I don't go around laughing all the time, but I don't go around crying either. I am contented and it is well with my soul :) I don't think that we agree on this, but we all have to decide what is real for ourselves. So we can agree to disagree. Wishing you a new year that is better than the one before it.
Here's to sweeter days.
Connie :)

Rain said...

Hi Connie :) Thanks for your comment. :) Whatever any person finds meaningful and gives them contentment is a wonderful thing! :) I agree about making memories and spending time together. Gifts are fun but it was kind of a relief not to have that on the plate this year. I like the idea of each of you planning a date night!!! :) Wishing you a better year to come as well! :)