Christmas shopping used to be fun. When our sons were small, my husband and I took the afternoon off, went out to lunch, and shopped for toys, books, and art supplies. We had fun imagining how delighted the guys would be, and on a weekday, the stores weren’t crowded. By dinnertime we were done. We hid the loot before the guys got home, pleased with our covert operation. Now that our sons are adults, we still enjoy buying them gifts, but we can complete our shopping with a few online orders.
I’m not religious, but I dislike the way Christmas has become such an excessive retail event. Besides shopping, every service imaginable has jumped on the holiday bandwagon—you need to get your carpet cleaned, ponder exciting new holiday recipes, and manage your holiday stress with a spa treatment. I even heard an ad about having your furnace ducts cleaned for the holidays! Huh?
I recall that spending in the name of Christmas offended my father, too. He wanted to “Keep the Christ in Christmas.” Mom agreed with the religious sentiment, but she loved the gift-giving and special food associated with Christmas. As a girl, I wished Dad’s opinion hadn’t put a damper on our pleasure in the festivities. Like Mom, I enjoyed the party aspect of the holidays.
Now I’m more sympathetic to Dad’s views about gift giving. It isn’t about the money. I still like giving gifts to other people. But I’ve gotten increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of making a list of what I want. There’s so little I need. The process feels foolish and self-indulgent.
This year, my husband and I have made a pact to refocus our efforts. We’ll still give each other small gifts—it is fun to open something on Christmas morning. Whatever else we would have spent can be devoted to something else. For him, it may be donations to causes he cares about. For me, the focus will be emphasizing experiences more than things. I’m asking our sons to take the same approach with me. For example, since I like tea, I could have tea at a teashop with one of our sons, and maybe he’ll buy me half a pound of special tea.
I’m not prescribing this approach for anyone else—I vividly recall how Dad’s views affected me—but this simpler approach appeals to me. By refocusing our efforts, I hope to reclaim the joy of Christmas giving.
Well, of course, they have a Christmas list. But … Antonio won’t get a hoverboard. He won’t get an upgrade to his iPhone 6. And, Crystel will have to wait to meet Ellen DeGeneres.
Jody and I created our own problem. We don’t wait for holidays or birthdays to gift them.
Antonio needed cross country boots and skis for Nordic skiing. We went to Sports Authority, our default store. We learned that they do not carry cross country boots or skis. While there, I encouraged Antonio to pick out five pairs of sweat pants and tops, his default clothing of choice. I had noticed his pant legs were creeping up. In my day, they called those “high water pants.”
Then we went to Dick’s, and they also didn’t have what we were looking for but they had socks for Antonio.
Finally, at REI we purchased the cross country boots, which we would end up returning because they were the wrong style. Still, while we were there I encouraged Antonio to pick out some dehydrated meals to try at home – anticipating his Boy Scout trip to Alaska in August of 2016.
The original purpose of our trip would prove fruitless yet bountiful for Antonio.
I mentioned the ‘Christmas all year long’ concept to Antonio and Crystel.
Though they didn’t disagree, they were not wild about my conclusion. I suppose they imagined a bare tree. Not hard to do when there isn’t even snow on the ground in Minnesota.
Still there has to be something under the tree for them. Something they don’t yet want.
Then there it was – snow boots. They need snow boots. Antonio will be taking a couple of winter camping trips with the Scouts. And Crystel’s no longer fit her.
This may be the biggest surprise of all on Christmas Eve, since its December 21, 2015 and there is no snow on the ground in Minnesota.