Could you skip Christmas? It’s a wish of at least 45% of those surveyed in one poll. The reason? Worries about finances. Their budget doesn’t allow much to go towards gifts this year. From the linked article at CNBC:
“Eighty-five percent of those in this year’s survey plan to spend the same amount of money or less on gifts this year, with 54 percent planning to spend $500 or less, and 27 percent planning to spend between $500 and $1,000 on holiday gifts.”
There are many reasons people are rethinking the way they have celebrated Christmas. How many of these resonate with you?
1. It’s too expensive.
2. There are pressures to spend more each year.
3. The gift list is getting too long.
4. It’s too much stress keeping up with all the details.
5. We give gifts to people we don’t care about.
6. The season is too commercial.
7. Our December calendar is overloaded.
8. The kids get the “gimmees.”
9. Much of it doesn’t represent my values.
10. It’s too much about impressing others.
Some people even say they want to ban Christmas presents. After all, you might spend $20 on a gift for Aunt Sarah who then gives you a $20 gift. But since you each got something you didn’t really want, there is $40 wasted and possibly more items for the landfill. (Hopefully those unwanted gifts get donated to a worthy cause.) It’s usually not acceptable to give cash because it shows lack of thoughtfulness. My dad said the perfect gift is cash because it’s always the right color! But if Aunt Sarah gives you $20 and you give her $20, will everyone be happy? Probably not. So we continue the charade of thoughtful gifts that most people don’t really want.
You can have wish lists, but that is just a step away from an order blank. You can try drawing names in the family so that each person buys just one gift and gets one gift. But that is somehow not very satisfying, especially if you never get the name of the person you like the most. You can try to limit gifts to just the kids, but then what do you do with childless people? You can request homemade gifts, but who has the time to make them?
Personally, I’m in favor of gifts just for the kids and then an activity with the extended family instead of gifts. After all, it’s shared experiences that form our best memories. An activity doesn’t have to be expensive to be special. Volunteering at a deserving charity is a wonderful family activity. A friend invites me over for tea in early December every year. I admire her tree, have a Christmas cookie or two, and share family news. It’s much nicer than exchanging gifts.
I’m not skipping Christmas, but I am skipping activities that don’t mesh with our family values. What do you want to teach your kids during the Christmas season? What can you do to make that happen? What activities do not feed into those goals? Every time you make a deliberate choice in how you celebrate the season, it is a little victory. Choosing your kind of Christmas is what will make it meaningful for you and your family.
I wish you a meaningful Christmas season with peace and joy!