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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buy Nothing Christmas?

I wonder how many like me are missing a more meaningful, less consumeristic Christmas holiday? Each year it seems the true meaning of Christmas slips just a little further away. It's all over, in school kids can no longer sing favorite carols due to the religious nature, in many stores clerks can no longer say "Merry Christmas", and the list goes on. Don't misunderstand me, I really do try to be respectful of others feelings and beliefs.... I think we can all be respectful of each others feelings and beliefs without taking away free speech! I find that many faiths besides Christians celebrate Christmas in one way or another and enjoy the tradition, family time, the fact that it's the one time of the year when we are all more open to the needs around us.

This is a time of year to be thinking of goodwill and peace for all, but that is far from what it has become! People go mad wild buying, buying and buying more until they find themselves further in debt for gifts that aren't much appreciated several hours after opening!

One thing we do to try and generate a feeling of thankfulness is limit gifts to 3 per child. I will admit there have been years I've strayed from this and always regretted it. Out of those three gifts we try to make one educational(game, puzzle, book, art set, etc..) one something they need(clothing, jacket, etc) and one just for fun, something they really desire. We also try to have each child take turns opening one present at a time and say thank you after opening it. I have seen far too many times children sitting with stacks and piles of gifts in front of them just going wild opening and tossing aside without hardly looking at the gift before moving on to the next! While my plan may not be perfect, it works for us and gives us time to focus on the gifts and each other without chaos.

While searching the web for fresh ideas of making the holidays more meaningful I found this site; Buy Nothing Christmas While I love the idea, I have to admit for me it's a little too extreme to literally buy nothing, but they have a great page for alternative gift giving ideas and I think there are a few really neat ideas we can use to cut back on the gifts we buy and either make something, or be giving of ourselves and our times. Those seem to me to be the gifts that may be cherished rather than just shoved in a closet forgotten about until stumbled upon some time later. There are some ideas listed that I plan on using myself.

What kinds of things do you and your family do to make the holidays more meaningful? I would love to hear about them!


William Cooney said...

Very good post. I, too, lament the pervasive consumerism of the entire holiday season. Something else I notice about this time of year is how some people seem to miss the joy in grappling with some of the extra chores the season brings. By that I mean not seeing them as impediments to joy but rather as opportunities for fun and sharing of purpose. With the right attitude, preparing for a small gathering of family and friends - cooking, cleaning, etc. - can actually provide a measure of joy in and of itself.

Now does this sound silly: The last several years, I have taken to making sure the television does not get turned on when guests are over - no matter how big that game is! I turn on the stereo unit and tune in to one of the commercial-free (don't like commercials) digital music channels. The no-TV and non-interrupted music doesn't sound like much, but to me it makes quite a difference. It seems to facilitate a slightly more intimate kind of engagement with one another.

BTW, you make a good point about what seems to be some subtle censorship rearing its head in our compulsion to be politically correct. As a non-religious person, I can recognize many of the positive aspects of the tradition of Christmas without subscribing to any of its uniquely Christian elements. Peace, joy, and goodwill are afterall things anyone, religious or not, can aspire to.

Red said...

US not being religious has us celebrating Christmas for a different reason. And I for one could easily for go the gifts.

I have just about everything I want and definitely everything I 'need'. So why do we perpetuate a holiday that went form a celebration of life to a holiday that promotes a holiday for those who can stuff gifts under their tree.

We have been financially strapped for a while and we took to making baskets of homemade food for family and no one to date has complained. I also am an Avon rep, and buy tidbits all year long and just dump bunches of lotions and gels into bags and no one has complained. Who doesn't like shower gel?

So we have managed to do things differently. But I look forward to the day that I get up enough gumption to stop buying all together.