As much as history repeats itself, so does the stories in the news, particularly around the holidays. Next to the “Milk and Bread!” announcements with some low-level news anchor standing next to the empty rack where shovels used to be in Home Depot , the most notable winter-time holiday news stories include that of people trampling each other at your local Wal-Mart. Ah, Black Friday..the one gem of the American holiday season. I once tried explaining this truly American holiday tradition to a German friend of mine, who simply could not understand the reasoning behind people getting into physical altercations to get televisions as if there was a global shortage, but alas.. one of the many mysteries of life.
While Black Friday has come and gone, the holiday season is still well upon us. I recently read this article discussing “Christmas Gluttony”, as some would say. Growing up, it almost seemed the norm with my friends and I what we would get—a few toys, an outfit or two, and maybe a book or holiday themed movie that we had particularly wanted. Nothing really that over the top; it was also expected that amidst the Christmas season we would give back to those around us in some capacity, regardless of our age–whether it be delivering excess cookies to a homeless shelter or helping an elderly neighbor out with her shoveling. The concept of how families vastly differ in their internal gift-giving has only something that I really have recently paid attention to as an adult. Granted, this of course, largely varies on parent’s values as well as economic abilities, but a lot of the underlying principles behind it still stand.
I’m personally a fan of practical gift-giving. Most of the gifts I purchase are something a person can wear in some capacity, or eat, or a high quality version of something rather useful that they need/planned to buy anyway (ie:part of my mother’s gift is a new curling iron..SHH!!). I also have siblings who were born ON Christmas Day, so really, when it looks like I’m buying them an array of gifts, it’s really just Christmas and Birthday combined–so not all that bad.
Last year, I overheard the story of 5 year old who, when prompted by their aunt on what he would like for Christmas, replied with a list of 3-4 items, none of which that had a price tag of under $200. Aside from the extreme specificity of the gifts (and the entire spirit of Christmas and giving being entirely lost here), to further worsen the matters, when the gift-giver told him that she could not afford his pricey selections he simply replied with “Why not? It’s ONLY $200, and it IS Christmas!”.
While I would have received a swift swat on my derriere from my parents for being such a (insert adjective of your choice here) child, the point I’m trying to make is that Charlie Brown did have it right-Christmas is being commercialized! Whether you celebrate the religious significance of the day, or simply enjoy the concept of a holiday to be spent with your loved ones with the potential exchange of gifts ‘just because’, keep in mind that it’s not about the actual gifts, but rather the thoughts behind them. I’m (clearly) not an expert on parenting, but instilling the value of giving rather than receiving is something that Christmas should highlight. Avoiding talking about what the spirit of this season truly means only feeds into the effect of future generations further commercializing the season.
What was your favorite gift-giving practice for children based on the list? Should these concepts be applied to all this season?
As for what I want this holiday season?
Real estate 😉