This is a repost from last year…but I think it still rings true!
We’re really down to the wire now. Less than a week until Christmas. I’ve been out and about the past few weeks, shopping, looking for the perfect gifts for my loved ones. I’ve also been doing a lot of people-watching (mostly while standing in line), and while all the stores are perfectly trimmed, shoppers are wearing their finest Christmas sweaters, (I’ve even seen people that have their CARS decorated!), there is one thing I’ve noticed missing.
Remember “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men”? I honestly haven’t seen much of that at all this Holiday season. Over this past month, I’ve observed an increase in rude, aggressive drivers, thoughtless, sometimes belligerent store patrons, and cranky, miserable cashiers. I certainly understand that this is a hectic time for people. Trying to fit in all the shopping and other preparation into an already packed schedule is stressful. Add in the extra financial pressure, well, it’s practically a recipe for cranky!
Unfortunately, the overwhelming feeling I’m getting from all of this is that for many people, the Holiday season has become all about the “stuff”. Parents clamoring for the latest coveted toys, husbands trying to pick the right carat weight, 3rd cousins trying to select a Snuggie that doesn’t clash with Grandma’s couch. I’ve overheard many people complaining about all the wrapping they have to do, all the food they need to cook, all the in-laws they have to entertain.
I want to take over the PA system at the stores and tell everyone, “SLOW DOWN! IT’S NOT ABOUT THE STUFF!”.
I will admit to getting sucked into the “stuff” trap. Hell, I have 4 kids, and apart from them, TWENTY-SIX other people to buy for! I do my best to select gifts that I really think someone will enjoy and get good use out of. I enjoy giving gifts, making people happy and seeing their smiling faces when they open their package. But I REFUSE to go insane OR broke in the process.
Instead, I’m trying to make more of an effort to place more emphasis on the meaning and sentiment of the Christmas season. Our family celebrates the religious traditions of Christmas. Maybe you don’t, but you can still take the time to celebrate the blessings you have in life. Spend time with your family, remember how lucky you are to have them. TELL THEM how lucky you are to have them. That can far outshine even the most expensive gift.
Maybe you’re in a position where you don’t feel you have many blessings right now. That’s certainly understandable these days. Why not go out and be a blessing to someone else? You may not have much to offer of a material fashion, but you can gift the gift of yourself. Volunteer your time and talents for someone else. You can get down on the floor with a special child in your life and play a simple board game. Help them understand as well that the Christmas season (and life in general) is not about the STUFF.
Let your actions show your loved ones how you feel about them, not the amount of money you spend on them. The pile of presents might be so big it blocks your view of the tree, but so what? What does that prove other than the fact that you can spend money?
Now I don’t claim to have it all figured out (far from it). I’m still working on it, like any other parent. But I think it’s important for my children to see me realize that it’s not about the stuff, and to help instill this in them as well. I realize how hard it is, with advertising and consumerism practically seeping into their pores these days.
So as for me, I am going to make a concerted effort to slow down and enjoy and celebrate the true beauty and blessings of Christmas. I want to play games, drink cocoa, read stories, and be surrounded by my family and friends. Sure, gifts are a wonderful addition to the mix, but my loved ones, and the time I’m given with them is the greatest gift of all.