After suffering through a miniature panic attack a little over a week ago due to the realization that the time to stock up my gift closet was running out (thanks for the heads up QVC), I quickly pulled it together and managed a good amount of retail therapy.
It could have been any number of things that spurred my motivation. Maybe it was the putting up of the faux tree, adorning it with ornaments old and new. Perhaps it was theChristmas cards suddenly showing up in my mailbox. Or, and most likely, itwas witnessing mykid’s expectant faces peering down at an…empty tree skirt…that added a touch of desperation to my already growing anxiety.
All of this shopping got me thinking about the whole gift-giving process in general. In the Christian philosophy giving of gifts is meant to replicate the Three Wise Men bearing gifts to celebrate the birth of Christ. That’s all good but…what does instigating a throwdown over ZhuZhu pets in the middle of the Walmart toy section replicate? Were the Wise Men fighting over the frankincense at the local…I don’t know…frankincense store?Did they get in a pulling hair match over the myrhh?Highly doubtful.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I absolutely love giving gifts. I hope it doesn’t sound too cliche for me to say that I am a much better giver than getter when it comes to “gifting.” Nothing brings me more satisfaction than watching someone unwrap a present, especially if I know it’s one that will bring the recipient a lot of joy. Christmas Eve night is almost harder for me as an adult than it was for me as a kid because I am so anxious for the morning when my kids will wake up, stumble out to the living room, their eyes aglow from both the twinkling lights of the tree and the sheer exhilaration at witnessing the miracle of Santa.
But…and this is a big butt (whoops, Freudian slip, maybe?) I feel like it is way too easy to fall into the trap of Christmas commercialism and bestow upon our little ones an absolutely ridiculous amount of gifts therebyredefining their expectations of the holiday spirit from quality to quantity. **There, I said it. I feel better. Sort of. Please don’t hate me. And please do not categorize me as the blogger Grinch who hates Christmas.**
This has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s financial situation. If someonehasn’t spent all their money investing in baseball cards and carnival glass and is fortunate enough to buy their children a new car for Christmas (in which case, please contact me becausemy ’97 Honda Accord has been making some scary noises and just might be on its last leg) then by all means, purchase that thing. But the majority of us out there are feeling the pinch in our purses (thank you very much Fannie and Freddie!) and don’t have that capability. However, some still feel compelled to throw down that Visa at the checkout and mortgage their Christmas to the hilt.
My fear is that in all this consumerismthe meaning of Christmas is getting lost in the shuffle. Religious convictions aside, this holiday has the opportunity to work some seriousmiracles in someone’s life. Families who have suffered major losses, friends who haven’t spoken in years, couples who have been experiencing tension can all come together under the lights of a Christmas tree, if only for one day. Of course there’s always the chance that a holiday gathering could wreck any chances at reconciliation and cause an undue amount of anger and bitterness, in turn revealing the ugly (pronounced oogly for emphasis) side of someone. It’s been known to happen. No further comment.
The point is (and there is a point…I promise…I don’t just write this stuff for the heck of it…okay, sometimes I do…like when I wrote this) that there is so much more to Christmas than the gifts. There’s faith. There’s food. And family. And peanut brittle. And friends. And fudge. And parties. And Christmas cookies. And white elephant exchanges. And hot buttered rums. (Are you sensing a theme here?)
As a child, Christmas was most definitely about the gifts…in part. It was also about dressing up a little, eating good food with family, watching Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on television, and singing Christmas songs during music class at school. It wasone holiday with several different elements.It was not only about the gifts. Nowadays, people cause themselves so much stress and anxiety over the gifting part of the holiday they potentially relieve ofthemselves the entire”reason for the season.”
The peppermint bark.
Enjoy the season, Mindy