Putting the spirit back into Christmas:
Craft workshops teach how to make gifts
By Jen Skerritt
Free Press, October 26, 2005
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,"
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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