Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas 2011

'Tis the season, again. Time to run around from crowded mall to crowded mall. Time to jump in the car and race down the highway, trying to beat the traffic to get to your dinner party. Time to spend money on gifts that you have no real idea as to whether the recipient has or wants. Time to celebrate the season! (if that is what you call Christmas).
If you read my post from last year, you will know that by and large, I am no real fan of Christmas. In my last post, I did say I would try harder to find Christmas, and I have been looking.
We were recently at a friend’s house for a Christmas party. There were lots of people, lots of food, lots of Christmas carolling and lots of fun. There was no pressure, no gifts to buy, no headaches. People just enjoyed each other’s company and having the chance to make new friends and catch up with old friends. That was a great Christmas party! Thank you, Roseanna and Derek.
I guess one of the things that really bugs me about Christmas is the gifts, the money we feel obligated to spend or you’re a Grinch. I think the closest thing I have seen to what I would consider an ideal Christmas is how I see the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. There is no big need to buy expensive gifts, no panics at the mall, it is just families and friends getting together to share a meal and to be thankful for their many blessings.
Imagine how far it would go if we were to take just one-tenth of the money we spend on gifts and put it toward our favorite charity. A few years ago at Christmas time I set up a weekly donation that I make to a charity. I continue to do this. I felt really good about that. I felt it was a gift that mattered.
I don’t consider myself a Scrooge. I very much enjoy a Christmas party. I also like those little gift exchanges where you can’t spend more that 10 or 15 dollars and the gift is supposed to make the recipient smile or even laugh out loud or a small token to show how much you appreciate someone. You don’t have to go broke doing this. It is even a good feeling.
What about the kids? Christmas is supposed to be for the kids, or so I am told. I don’t argue that at all, but I do suggest that maybe this is where we have laid the groundwork for the money-focused holiday we have now. Yes, I want my kids to have good things, and yes, I did then, and continue now, to spend money on them every Christmas. But I have also tried to share with them my feelings about the commercialism of Christmas.
My daughter is almost finished her post-graduate degree and my son is working hard to advance himself in his career. This take lots of effort, lots of time and lots of money. I have asked both of them not to spend any money at all on Christmas presents for us. We will get together and enjoy the opportunity to spend some time together as a family.
One of the nicest and most thoughtful Christmas gifts I have every gotten was given to me last year by my daughter when she took the time and effort to MAKE me a Christmas card. I keep it on my desk and it makes me feel good every time I look at it. What more could you possibly ask for from a gift?
I don't consider myself a Grinch. I enjoy getting together with friends and family and Christmas can be a great time for that. I just don't think it needs to be based on what you managed to spend money on at the mall, or what someone else has gotten for you. I just think it should be about the time spent together.
So here's hoping you have a safe and happy Christmas!!

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