(Note: Snyder family be advised that reading further will give away your Christmas presents.)

With only a few days left till Santa, my attempts to subvert holiday overconsumption have been moderately (if not wildly) successful. I haven’t been in a mall or a big box store, and it feels great. But unfortunately I haven’t been magically moved to create innovative underconsumptive gifts either. The moments of inspiration have been few.

Fortunately I’ve managed to manifest at least one decent series of gifts. The idea came way back in the summer, when I came across a snapshot of my great grandparents in 1910, standing on the prairie with a boxy storefront in the background. Neither of them could have been older than 25, and they look happy.

I love this picture. I love the sense of history and place it gives me. So I went and had 8″ x 10″ enlargements made, put them in frames, and sent them to every family member on that side of the family. Father, grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins.

Snyders in Wainwright Alberta (1910)I think it’s a good present. But talk about putting all my eggs in one basket! As the box travels west and north I find myself feeling insecure on a bunch of different levels. For one thing, I’m not sure if or how far photo development falls outside my guidelines for subverting overconsumption, and after worrying about that for a while the photos didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted anyway (the photo dude cut off the giant prairie sky, which is a big part of what makes the original photo so cool). For another thing, hiking out to Value Village to buy recycled frames meant that I had to take what I could get, even though it meant settling for some fairly ratty looking frames. On top of that I didn’t buy wrapping paper – instead I did a bit of a hack job wrapping them in old magazine pages and recycled velvet and lace ribbon.

Then of course there’s the problem of them being my only gift…what if they just seem lame?

Why is it that despite sparing myself the holiday stress of the malls and consumption, I’m still managing to worry that I’m going to come off like a cheap twit to my friends and family? Two months in to this project (today is Subverting Overconsumption’s two month anniversary!) I realize I still don’t feel quite secure underconsuming in a culture that associates how much we buy with how much success, love and gratitude we have. I wonder when that’s going to wear off. I really want it to wear off dammit!

Subversive season’s greetings to you and yours,

xo n

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