A Different Christmas Culture: Travel

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

―St. Augustine

Christmas in Indonesia is somewhat different from Christmas elsewhere. We still have the ever-rampant Christmas sales everywhere, but the tradition in celebrating it is rather different.

More often than not, only few families here gather around and exchange gifts and eat scrumptious meals and enjoy the warmth of a family the way everyone else does. When it comes to Christmas, the most popular question here would be “Where will you go?”. Christmas is a peak holiday season where families here would travel abroad in the Christmas – New Year time period.

This is a part of our culture, but still resembles the Western culture of Christmas in the way the spirit of giving is emphasized (parents here give kids gifts, only in the form of a one-week paid trip to Hong Kong with family, or equivalent). However, we practically chopped off all unnecessary physical items to be bought as gifts and substituted it with quality time in a quality place other than home. Less clutter.

Aside from that, giving a travel gift helps us not to indulge in impulsive purchases. No more window shopping or anything like it, especially when “SALE” is printed everywhere during Christmas.

On the other hand, the sad truth is that most people (in Indonesia, as I see it) would only visit the popular tourist attractions. They merely give short-term chills and thrills that would eventually be replaced by the next travel holiday season. In the end, all we remember would be something that seemed repetitive and monotonous (theme parks, theme parks, theme parks). They are not important.

Comparatively, travel is better than physical gifts in terms of value (memories last longer than physical objects). Travel also demotes the endless Christmas shopping spree. But is travel the right Christmas gift? There is no same answer for everyone. To me, travel is a great gift choice if it does not involve the same-old go-to tourist attractions, but the lesser-known, culture-related destinations that can expand our world view. Attending local events, tasting local delicacies and conversing with the natives of the area are great places to start. As for families, some creativity might be useful to spice up their holiday plans, because some of these lesser-known destinations are not necessarily approved to be ‘fun’ for kids. Tell the great stories that comes with the destination, make them feel comfortable and excited.

Travel is the window to the world, and not merely a pleasure haven. With Christmas just around the corner, will travel be your Christmas gift this year?

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The Ever-Changing Market: Harm to Minimalism

When I was a kid, PlayStation One was phenomenal. Nearly every family in my neighborhood had one, myself included. Everyday, I would sneak in at least an hour of game time (unless my parents said no, because I was so naïve and obedient) immediately after I reached home from school. That was until PS2 came. Soon enough, PS1 was disregarded, replaced by the then-brand-new PS2.

I believe we’ve all been there: we kept pursuing for the latest trends in the market. The world we live in today is an ultra-dynamic world, with new products arriving from everywhere and advertisements psychologically convincing us of any product’s pros. Because of this, we develop the fear of missing out on the latest technologies, the latest fashion trends, the latest songs. Everyone became so fixated on having the best that they became increasingly impulsive and materialistic. Everyone starts to forget what is really important in life, more important than any possessions on earth.

Excessive consumerism is the reason. The reason why “having is rewarding”. The reason why people became possession-centered. The reason why minimalists are fighting an uphill battle. And because of it, a never-ending cycle of skyrocketing demands, expeditiously expanding markets and excessive consumerism emerged.

Material objects constantly promise a sense of well-being, which is true to some extent. They do offer something, but that something rarely has any significance for a greater purpose in life, which is why we should let them go.

As minimalists, our surroundings do not exactly promote the act of minimalism. It is up to us to go forth and be different. We have to stop chasing after the wind, right now, stand by our roots and search for the true meaning.