What does it mean to you? I know a lot of people who complain about how commercialized Christmas has become…and then rush out with their lists and catalogs and ads to wait in lines at 3 in the morning on Black Friday. I always wonder…if you hate what Christmas has become, why bother? Don’t be the thing you hate. You know that expression, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? Well I kinda hate that phrase. Maybe not all the time, but in this case, definitely. Fight the system! And if you refuse to fight the system, don’t complain about it. You are perpetuating the problem. How? Well, I’ll tell ya!
First off, don’t complain about it. No one likes a hypocrite, especially one who feels the need to guilt trip our entire society. Hey, I hate the Hallmark-ing of a sacred holiday too, but I also know that I will, without a doubt, end up shopping for Christmas gifts, and asking for/looking forward to something special from Mom and Dad. So I keep quiet about it. It’s about balance. Which leads us to our next point.
Don’t worry about hurting people’s feelings. You really don’t HAVE to buy everyone you know a present. Or if you really really feel the need to give every coworker in your building a gift, make a giant batch of cookies and leave it in the break room. Ta-da! 20 gifts or so out of the way. Along the same lines, making gifts is a great way to cost-effectively include everyone on your list. What you make is up to you (I’m really bad at gift ideas) but the classics are: A custom frame with a favorite picture or poem, a coupon book (although that tends to be associated with kids), pasta necklaces, etc. For my birthday, my best friend Allison made me a purse out of an old skirt. It was my favorite birthday gift this year (although I am extremely grateful for all the other gifts I received!). I think of her every time I use it, which is daily, and it makes me smile to think about what it originated as. And when people compliment it I get to tell them its story!
Another great gift for people is a memory. What I mean is, not an object. The best way I can think to describe this is with an example. For my mom’s birthday we had a day where we went to get massages, had lunch, and went thrift store shopping. Things she likes! Sure, I like massages and food, too, (not so much with the thrift stores) but the point is that we had a nice day together. For my dad I bought tickets to see Bill Cosby. Sure, the tickets won’t be any good till May, but it really is the thought that counts, and we will still have a nice evening together and we’ll be doing something he’ll enjoy. So instead of trying to find the perfect thing for someone, try spending some actual quality time with them. Isn’t that the point?
Last, but definitely definitely not least, is Tiny Tim’s famous quote: “God bless us, everyone.” Yep, everyone. Not just friends or family or coworkers or that boss you’re trying to suck up to. Every. One. If you are like most Americans, you have some sort of budget or spending limit for the holidays. Why not include a fund for charities or donations? I know it’s cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason. And, again, that’s the whole point. Sure, we should give to and help others all year long, but the point is, generally speaking, we don’t. So, if we’re looking to fight the commercialism, why not make an extra conscious effort to reach out during the holiday season? If not funds, why not time? Volunteer at a soup kitchen (again, cliche) or something along those lines.
The point of all this (and it’s a lot I know, sorry) is that if you are going to whine about the mindset of most people around this time of year, don’t buy into that same mindset, or at least not as much. Do something about it. Make Christmas what it’s supposed to be. It’s not like Father Christmas just decided one day that he wanted all of us to panic over the new hot toy. He didn’t disappear. Father Christmas is still there trying to catch our attention. We’re too busy clipping coupons. We, as a society, broke Christmas. We can fix it.