buy nothing christmas '03
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Putting the spirit back into Christmas:
Craft workshops teach how to make gifts

By Jen Skerritt

From Winnipeg Free Press, October 26, 2005

Less than three years after spearheading an anti-Christmas consumerism initiative in Winnipeg, Aiden Enns says the idea of buying nothing for the holiday season continues to grow.

"I think there's a segment of the population which is frustrated with the amount of shopping in general and feel overwhelmed at Christmas," he says. "They're taking back the ability to make meaning with traditions."

This year, Enns' group Buy Nothing Christmas, is tackling the issue of overspending and Christmas mayhem long before plastic Santas and red and green tinsel invade stores across the city. By offering craft workshops in October that teach people how they can make gifts for their loved ones, Enns says people can create something unique that expresses their appreciation for someone else.

"People should come down to regain a sense of wonder of the season, and that happens through creativity and thoughtfulness," he says.

Enns says the idea started four years ago, while he was working at Adbusters in Vancouver. When Buy Nothing Day kicked-off at the onset of American Thanksgiving, Enns thought it might be a good idea to extend the concept to the entire Christmas season.

After years of worrying about what to get his parents and siblings and if he had enough money to pay for it, Enns says he felt Christmas was more about consumerism and less about the spirit of the season.
"I'd worry," he says. "I would run out and shop and it was stressful, very stressful."

Since then, the Winnipeg group has been involved in everything from singing alternative Christmas carols around local shopping centres to putting on its first play, A Christmas Karl, last year. Enns says the group ran the first Craft Share Fair on Oct. 15 at the Winnipeg Winter Club, and expects more people to register for the next event at the end of the month. Workshops are lead by local artisans, who teach everything from making wreaths to making homemade drums.

Lynda Trono, one of the original organization members in Winnipeg, says she has a problem with how much the average person spends, and that she prefers to make her friends and family bread as a gift. She says crafts and homemade items are a great way to simplify gift giving, and says the workshops show that it's possible to make significant gifts without spending a lot of money.

"For years I have tried not to make Christmas a consumer festival," she says.

And Trono isn't alone. Enns says their website is getting hundreds of hits each day, and that more people are taking back the traditions of the season. He says the movement itself is growing and taking on a life of its own.

For Enns, who is motivated by both his Christian faith and social beliefs, his holiday season is finally as it should be.
"Christmas has become more meaningful for me," he says. "It focuses on the spirit of generosity and the gift of life that is the spirit of Christmas."

The next Craft Share Fair takes place Oct. 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at St. Paul's Anglican Church on North Drive.

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jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

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