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.”