‘Tis the season for holly jolly and merry-making, for snowmen and skating and Santa. It would be untrue for me to say I don’t miss being home for the holidays- making cookies with family, driving around to see homes decked out in full Christmas attire, seeing friends home from various adventures. What I do not miss from home, however, is the materialism that surrounds the holidays- actually just materialism in general.
Everywhere you turn there is pressure to buy, buy, buy- ‘sales’ that are probably just the product of exponential price raises throughout the year, and companies therefore can slash prices at amazing ‘discounts.’ ‘Tis the season to spend money. And oh, Black Friday. The day where we are supposed to stop and be grateful for what we already have, has been infringed upon by this immense desire to go out and purchase more and more and more.
It is amazing to me the lack of that here in Nome. Yes people are gearing up for the holidays, buying presents here and there, maybe a tree and some decorations, but not to the extreme levels of home. Maybe it’s because there are no giant malls or retailers pushing people to spend spend spend, or maybe it’s just the lifestyle here. Either way, I feel sometimes we are (to a certain extent) brainwashed to adore things- lifeless, frail, unimportant things- brands and labels of the highest quality- clothing and bags and shoes and accessories- making us look and feel good even at the ugliest sweater party.
And that’s another thing- fashion. What fashion exists here in Nome, you ask? Well, comfort, of course. Comfort and practicality. And it is glorious. Now don’t get me wrong- I do miss having the luxury of mixing and matching a new outfit daily, going out to do whatever I’m doing feeling confident in a super weird/marvelous look, one that I most likely crafted from some mix of my mother’s old clothes, my great-grandmother’s old jewelry, and some new-er-ish items I have somehow come about. Those were my favorite. Now I find myself in predicaments where fashion is barely on the radar, if at all. Not to say sweatpants and hoodies are an everyday occurrence, but… you want to wear them to a community event? Go for it. Your top doesn’t match your bottoms? Great. Do it. You do you. No one is going to turn a cheek if that’s the circumstance. It creates this amazing feeling where no, you are not being judged on your outfit, almost ever. You just are another wonderful person contributing to the good of the community, doing so in whatever you see fit. Everyone goes about their business not constantly self-conscious on if they look worse/better than the next person. It’s liberating and wonderful. And like I said, it is also for practicality’s sake. Look nice in your work clothes and you want to go on a midday hike or berry picking? Why change when you can just wear plaid and call it a day? Or in the winter- honestly you really just want to wear as many as layers as possible- it’s close to impossible not to look like a marshmallow.
Fashion just makes up some of those things we like to buy to make us feel good. Things. Tangible things. Things cannot share the warmth of a hug, talk to you for hours, or share the joy of your adventures. Things do not care what you are doing or who you are seeing. They don’t care. They will not return any love to you. At all. So why should you care about them? Yes, there are necessities all humans need. I am only human, and so I have wants and needs as well (fun socks and shoes being a big weakness!). I enjoy a good shopping trip once in a while. But I will never care more about an item than a fellow human being. Ever. (Never say never, but this is really true!)
I especially realized this once I got here after packing three suitcases full of things I thought I would need. I’m glad I came prepared- jeans and tanks and t-shirts and sweaters and sweatshirts/pants among other things- but I could have easily gotten along with two suitcases, maybe even one. Packing for a whole year? How will I ever fit my entire life and wardrobe into that?! Now I don’t even wear half of it. It’s kind of funny, actually. Sometimes Emily and I will put on whatever ‘nice’ clothes we’ve brought and say “remember when… we used to wear things/looked like this all the time??” There’s a slight sense of nostalgia, and then it’s kind of comical, actually.
Am I now forgoing fashion and any other ‘things’ I am implying? Oh no, definitely not. I do enjoy some of the simple luxuries of life. But currently living in this laid-back type of environment is pretty awesome. I guess what I’m trying to say is when you are going about your holiday tidings this year, remember what you are doing, and why you are doing it. Maybe you are a believer, and maybe you aren’t. Maybe you’re close to loved ones, and maybe you’re not. Either way, this holiday season and all other seasons, don’t be a Scrooge, working yourself 24/7 all the time, all days of the year. Take time for your family, your friends, your neighbors. Show kindness towards those you don’t even know. Those tangible things you work so hard for will eventually become obsolete; they will break or tear or get worn, and you’ll find yourself going to get another one of those things to replace it anyway. Things can fill your stocking, but they can’t fill your heart.