Each year we are asked like clockwork by friends, family members, radio DJs, celebrities, our work, our schools, etc, the preposterous question, “What does Christmas mean to you?” We answer with Hallmark responses echoing a desire for peace, goodwill, and love to our fellow man. We blend in a bit of the jolly ‘ol guy in the red suit, a baby boy born amidst pig feed and cow dung, a few paintings of rosy-cheeked carolers, and we conjure up an answer that has little to do with how we actually celebrate Christmas in our developed nation.
Is this post snarky and presumptuous? Yes. Does it stink of holier than thou pontifications? Perhaps. But is it true? Yes, of both you and I.
For the most part we have turned Christmas and the surrounding holidays into a consumer free-for-all in which we write excessive lists of “What the heck is that?” and “Where am I supposed to find that?” We then rally our liquid assets, remaining unsecured credit, and the ghosts of Christmas lay-away, in order to dive deep into the belly of the beast and submit ourselves to what becomes increasingly more insane and violent each year.
Let’s all pause for a moment though and remind ourselves of how countless stores look just hours after violently stuffing ourselves with Turkey and Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving Day.
My heart literally hurts when I watch that video. Like Braveheart and his men the crowd lets out a celebratory roar almost as soon as the clip begins. They force the metal gate to break free from their hinges and they storm the merchandise tables as a starving crowd of enslaved people would a relief fund food drop. Is this really what we have become?
I am immediately reminded of the horrible death in 2008 of the Wal-Mart employee. Stampeded by other human beings. And over what? A game system? A much-hyped doll?
Granted I am illustrating the extreme cases. Not all suburban box stores fall victim to hoards of flash mobs and otherwise obsessed shoppers. On a smaller scale though, is this not the madness that envelopes us all from the end of November until the final days of Advent? Since the Mad Men days of the late ’50s to the baby boomers of the ’90s, consumerism has been elevated to an art form. And with it, Christmas. Those same days mentioned above with the sounds of choirs and church bells and peace on Earth have now become an opus of well-calculated, perfectly executed, strategically planned, income-generating composition!
So how do we save Christmas? Well, I have no idea. More church isn’t the answer. Walking the streets with empty bowls begging for rice isn’t the answer. Not even wearing tattered clothing and giving our worldly possessions to 3rd world nations is the answer. I have no 5 Tips to Save the Holidays. I am not self-help guru. And if you are still reading this post I am little more than your friend who you want to hear from or find out where my mind is this time of year.
How to save Christmas is all about you! It involves really analyzing where your heart is, where your mind is, and where you want them to be come December 26. It is also about being real in regards to your financial position and where you would like to come out the day after the birthday.
Crystal and I made 70% of our gifts this year. It was a pleasure for us and we hope will be a pleasure for the recipients. We are no Martha Stewarts. We are not even that crafty. But we have a desire and we practice until we come up with something halfway presentable. The other 20% were purchased cash-on-the-barrel. As for each other? Is that the remaining 10%? No. In fact, Crystal will not be getting a diamond tennis bracelet and I will not spend Dec. 25th scrolling around on my new iPad. In fact, we aren’t buying each other gifts. We are instead investing in each other and our life together by spending the day together and planning our future in Tiny House. Any money we may have spent will go towards further reducing our debt. The other 10% are gifts for a few Aunts and Uncles and they are donations made in honor of. I love these kind of gifts because they fill no consumer need but still manage to bring gift giver and gift receiver closer together.
Now mind you. Our answer may not work for you. It may even sound stupid. In fact, you may just want to go to Wal-Mart, buy a bunch of gifts, wrap them, and absolve yourself later. Fine by me! There shouldn’t be a need for it though as Christmas should NOT be about guilt or blame. If you choose to give gifts, then do it. But do it from your heart. Buy within your means. Don’t allow yourself to become maniacal. Crystal and I are not immune to this issue. We have been into Target this month and wanted to purchase a few decorations or a Gingerbread House Kit or a toy for a niece or nephew. But we picked it up, walked around the store with it, talked about the purchase, and ultimately realized it just wasn’t “right.”
So what do you think? Have I hit the nail on the head? Am I bonkers myself? Am I being unfair? Can we save Christmas? Let me hear from you. And as always, if you like this post feel free to share it on Facebook or put the link out on Twitter. The r(E)volution is open to everyone!