The theme for this month’s Green Mom’s Carnival is Commercialism of the Holidays hosted by the lovely Michelle at Green Bean Dreams
When the theme was announced I was immediately reminded of this event:
In the country there was a farm I used to take my kids to where we would purchase our pumpkins. They had mountains of glorious orange globes. Picturesque hay stacks, rows and rows of sunflowers where the kids could pick the seeds and eat, piles of knotty eclectic gourds, and colorful indian corn. They pressed apples into cider there and someone was always there making homemade cider doughnuts. It was elegantly simple and charming.
One year when we arrived the entire mood of the place had changed, there were lines of cars to get in, the parking had become remote – we actually had to pay a fee to park! There were carnival rides spewing smoke into the air, and vendor after vendor selling cheap manufactured craft like items.
All I could think about was that I had to pay a fee to buy a pumpkin?
My kids were lured into the entire scene.
Oh Mommy would you buy me this?
Can we get ….
I want to go on the carousel…
I was absolutely furious.
I wrote a letter to the farmer, who to his credit wrote me back on very nice pumpkin stationary. Mind you, he didn’t particulary appreciate my discust for his whole new commercial approach to pumpkin farming.
I told him I came for a very specific feeling and expression and that I could no longer find there.
I also told him I didn’t buy a pumpkin.
He told me how sad it made him that I didn’t purchase a pumpkin.
He then for about 3 pages explained the demise of the american farmer and that the pumpkin festival was the only way he could break even from the whole thing. He mentioned how he had trouble feeding his family, the tone of the explanations were defensive and angry. He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. He was right. I knew nothing about the american farmer. His comment about not being able to feed his family floored me. Not the image I think of with food growing all around. I felt even worse.
I never did go back to his farm. I tried to grow my own pumpkins and didn’t have much luck. As my kids got older Halloween changed for us and the control I tried to have as a parent shifted; at some level the sugar, commercialized store bought costumes and foreign made decor won. I gave in.
Looking back and thinking differently now about consumerism or even thinking about becoming an empty nester and having to move all that crap, I feel ashamed that I made some of those purchase decisions, lured by the oh buy me call.
I wish I could take back the money I wasted – it would have made a nice contribution to the college fund. I wish I had been more thoughtful of the impact my purchasing has on the environment. Or what machinery my dollars were contributing to. Recently it occured to me that the special unique thing I might be attracted to buy at Target is available to millions of people around the country. Certainly doesn’t make me an individual anymore. It makes me just like everyone else. I took so much of that for granted before. I wish I had thought about it more instead of just going along.
I think the choice to consume or not to consume is a conscientious one – choosing not to get caught in the hum of it all, choosing local homemade, homegrown, and back somehow to the simplicity of these holidays isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I have decades worth of halloween decor in my basement. In recent years I have tried to give some of it away. At least at the local resale shop the purchasing goes to cause. Truth is I just don’t need it anymore
Do we really need that plastic tray with the cute pumpkins all over it?
Would the world end if we didn’t get it??
K a r e n H a n r a h a n
Wellness Educator/Nutritional Consultant
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Member of BNI – West Suburban BNI: “Chapter Mentor”
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WSWE Board Member and Programming Chair