(By Ian Austin, The Province)
I’m dreaming of … an electronic Christmas.
That’s the lament of SFU psychologist Dr. Joti Samra, who fears that our increasingly commercial holiday season is causing stressed-out consumers who turn to food, drink and shopping in excess as a result.
Samra, who also has a clinical practice in Yaletown, was babysitting her niece and nephew Monday when The Province called — the type of thing that used to dominate a Christmas season often overshadowed these days by 24/7 online shopping and a desperate need to get the latest and greatest technological gadget.
“Christmas is so different from even 10 years ago. People are so busy thinking, ‘Where do I go? What should I buy.’ ” said Samra. “It’s all about reviewing your expectations and values.”
Rather than the latest gadget or gizmo, Samra suggests something more meaningful, and appreciated:
“Maybe offer to babysit for your sister. Or prepare a meal for your aunt.”
And she’s concerned about the length of the shopping season.
“It starts in October now. People buy too much, and they’re in debt. “That stresses them out, and they overindulge — in food, in drinking, in shopping.”
Rather than turning to excess, Samra says preparing for predictable seasonal stress can help you survive the holidays.
“Set a limit — if you’re going to a party, prepare before you go and think about how much your are going to drink.
“And if you’re going to a party, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch so you don’t overeat at the party.”
Samra’s message seemed to resonate with people out on the street in Vancouver Monday — at least those not too hurried and stressed to stop and chat about the issue.
“For me it’s friends and family,: said Darleen Godard, a college program adviser. “It’s always been that for me — I’m not very materialistic.
“Certainly memories are more valuable than having something materialistic.
“Memories last longer than a gift which will end up in the trash eventually.”
Student Jodhbir Singh also feels non-materialistic values are more important than having the ‘latest and greatest.’
“Christmas is about family, spending time with friends, and spending time with the people you don’t have time to visit with during the year,” said Singh. “People are so busy.
“I went shopping last Boxing Day, and I’ll probably never do it again — it was too much.”