I’m Rich Grinch!

This is still one of my most popular posts. As I start to feel a little anxiety over the coming holidays, I need to read this again 🙂 .

I may lose some followers over this (please don’t leave!) – but I have to vent. I have an alter ego that surfaces every year around this time as I get frustrated, overtaxed, and worked up with this tradition of ‘buying presents’ for Christmas. Her name is Greta Grinch.

Did you ever stop to think, who started this whole gift exchange thing during Christmas? Who came up with the brilliant idea that we –

  • Make a list of people we like, love, respect, don’t like but we’re related to, don’t respect but we work with
  • Comb the depths of our souls to come up with SOMETHING they need, like, won’t throw away or re-gift
  • Search store after store, website after website, sale after sale to find the right color, size, model, make, and PRICE
  • Purchase , package, wrap, and mail some overpriced, undervalued  token that each recipient will spend two minutes opening and analyzing before moving to the next overpriced … you get the point. 

It’s stressful!  The competition with other shoppers, the financial burden, the deadlines. Sure, you can start shopping in July. But who wants to buy a present for someone six months in advance, hide it and keep it a secret for that long. It’s like living a lie!

And let’s stop pretending that Black Friday and Cyber Monday is about gift buying when it’s really an excuse – a solar gravitational pull – for us to rack up stuff for ourselves!

 So, who came up with this gift buying idea? Jesus?

As I remember it, when Jesus was born people bought presents to him. Mary and Joseph didn’t have those ‘just-in-case’ gifts lying around in the hay. The Magi didn’t bring extra gifts for Mary, Joseph, and the farm animals.  

This doesn’t sound like Christmas the way we celebrate it – it sounds more like a baby shower or a birthday party. Can you imagine a birthday party where you have to bring presents for all of the guests – including the birthday boy/ girl? No one would attend!

So who came up with this idea? St.Nick?
Oohhh there are tons of stories about where he came from (just Google it). But most of them boil down to a RICH man secretly giving gifts to poor CHILDREN. I’m neither rich nor poor and the majority of people on my list are NOT children.

So, what happened?

At one point in early history, there were no Walmarts and online shopping. Christmas gifts were handmade, sweets, or even oranges. Then the manufacturing industry started up; women started working (who had time to make gifts?); the advertising industry kicked in and – well, the rest is history. We now have eager gift recipients demanding Xboxes and ipads and smart phones, oh my.

My family and I were in Walmart this week and my 2y.o. was batting his lashes (as usual) at an attractive young woman standing in line.  She was smitten.
“What’s Santa getting you for Christmas?” she asked.
“Nothing.” He smiled and she was confused.

I haven’t taught my kids that Christmas means they are going to GET anything… whether it’s from me, their grandparents, or the big fat bearded man dressed in red. Even though they will get something from all of us (except from, well, you know …).

They are still young – so I can get away with it. I want them to grow up thinking that Christmas is about giving – not getting.

You know what Christmas is?

60 minutes did a story on the overwhelming population of homeless kids and parents in Florida who are living out of their cars. Yeah … what do you drive? Now picture yourself and three kids LIVING out of it – washing up in gas stations and sleeping in parking lots.  It’s real.

The viewership was so moved that they gave $1 million to support these families- including jobs, homes, and more. THAT’S Christmas.

Christmas is donating a toy to Toys for Tots or canned goods to Hosea Feed the Homeless. Christmas is a reason to deliver homemade cookies to a new neighbor. Christmas is the season of giving — from the heart.

And as for my dear Greta Grinch… I won’t be able to ‘make it rain’ for my loved ones this year (i.e. shower them with expensive gifts) and I’m determined not to feel bad about it. I’ll buy what I can because – as I’m learning more and more – “it is what it is.”

But I’ll be surrounded by food and family and love. And for that, I’m rich grinch!

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34 thoughts on “I’m Rich Grinch!

  1. I have toned down the shopping 4 the last 4 years and life is much better. Right now we have bought one gift for each kid, just that. They get to pick for their bds and we pick on Christmas. Yes, they will get more than one, but I am not doing the stress, guilt, over my budget thing at all. It is not worth it. We signed off from that ride and what a load off our shoulders. I do not let others dictate how we celebrate, and I am trying to set my kids free from it too. I want then to celebrate, buy and do out of their own choice and not moved by or pushed by traditions that care less and less about what we started celebrating in the beginning to start with.

    • love your response! love it! love it! what I like most is the part about setting your kids free! I can tell life is much easier for you. but to think you are handing this down to the next generation – maybe we can start a movement 🙂 we can each determine how we want to celebrate b/c some like to overindulge – but that shouldn’t reflect negatively on those of us who don’t. thank you!

  2. We decided to do a gift exchange with the adults and only buy for the kids. It stemmed from us just being realistic about our situation. Every freaking year we put the gifts on a credit card and spend the next year trying to pay it off, does that make any sense? You post is right on the money and I agree it is ridiculous to put all the stress on everyone to buy a gift for every person in your family who most likely will say they like it when they don’t. I would rather something give me a homemade anything, nice picture in a frame, a good book, then a gift that most likley they bought using a charge card from the store they bought it on. Since deciding to not worry about buying all these gifts, it has been such a stress reliever and now we can enjoy Christmas for what it is: a celebration of Jesus, love, family, food, and giving.

  3. You’re not a Grinch! You’re just in-tune with the true meaning of Christmas. My husband has learned to stop saying “that’s all you got them?” I don’t go all crazy. I keep it simple and bring the boys with me to donate toys, clothes, etc. It’s something truly important to instill at an early age.

  4. We are fortunate enough at the moment that our kids are still at the age where they have no value of presents, except for the box itself 🙂 But when they do, we have talked about giving only one present for each child as they get older and the rest be donated to a charity of their choice 🙂 These kids have to be raised the right way nowadays, otherwise, they’ll feel entitled like the rest of the world! We’ve also told the rest of our friends and family this Christmas that we will not be doing presents, and that our money will be donated to a much “needed” cause. There are plenty of children/families in our community that are truly in need and not want of more things.

    • I like this – so glad to find a community of ppl that have the same thoughts – how did your family respond? I think that’s a great idea – maybe I can try that with my family next year… I could see that being a lot of fun but I have some die hard ‘present-ers’ in my fam 🙂

  5. Well said, well said. I couldn’t agree you with you on this topic. Seriously, some kids are asking for an Ipod Touch, iPad, game system, video games, etc. Or Northface coats and matching gloves… UH, hold on. I don’t even have a Northface coat. I can’t stand to spend expensive things on myself.

    I wish you wrote this a month ago. I would have stuck to one gift per kid! I have even told everyone not to get too many gifts for Lili. She’s only 6-months old. There’s nothing she needs or could use right now that she already doesn’t have. Honestly, you’re just giving ME clutter in the tiny shoe box home that we have. She’s still too young to appreciate what’s being given to her. I told everyone, if you want to give her anything, you can put a little something in her college fund that we’ve opened up. The end!

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    • Thank you sooo much Kristen for joining me here and for commenting AND for the compliment! Cutting down makes life more simple doesn’t it! I just don’t like the ‘obligation gifts’ but I do like showing appreciation to those who don’t give me anything on Christmas – but they’ve given to me all year. Those are the ones I’m feeling compelled to give a little something to now – and that will be fun (and not very expensive). I’m looking forward to caroling w/ my kids this weekend and that will be our ‘gift’ to our neighbors (I wonder if they will see it as a gift 🙂 ) Thanks again!

  7. Food, family, and love. Those ARE the gifts. I think tons of gifts is the wrong message to teach the next generation and so not needed. I don’t care if people call me a Grinch anymore. I won’t participate. We made it clear to family members this year that we don’t agree with the cosumerism of Christmas and won’t be a part of it. We aren’t giving anything and we don’t want anything. Getting together for a nice meal and spending time together is the gift. Good for you for not giving in. People are struggling as it is. I watched that video from 60 minutes and had it posted to my facebook page forever. Good to see it’s still swimming around out there. And good for you for holding your ground, especially with little ones. We don’t have kids yet so it’s easier to say all of this, but I’m going to do what you do when I have them. They need to know what’s really important, and what simply isn’t.

    • wow! good for you!! you really put your foot down – I like it! you may bend a little when you have kids but they still don’t need TONS of gifts. I’m convinced that’s us (the parents) feeling compelled to get EVERYTHING – and you know they open one gift and get attached to it. One year my kids got a train table and didn’t even want to open the other gifts – I felt so bad b/c the grandparents had bought other items 🙂

  8. Trisha, your article reflects my sentiments exactly, I feel so guilty having a lavish Christmas because I think of all the homeless, lonely people out there who have nothing. I only get practical gifts for the family, like this year they’re getting cheap Tracfone phones and what I will make sure I give to my family is my personal, quality time, I’ll play games in the garden with them and do some clay modelling, make a paper mache pig or make a kite together. The quality time is what the kids are going to remember when they are older. I also think that kids should learn to give of their time to the less privileged over Christmas time, you should teach them from when they are young.

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