As a rule, as I grow older, I am starting to despise Christmas. I am starting to feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge or the Grinch a little bit.
Don’t get me wrong, as a little one, I loved the holidays. I remember staring into those shiny glass ball ornaments until my eyes went crossed. I remember the feeling, the rush, of walking through the toy department of Hills’ Department Store during the holiday season. There was a joy in seeing the first Christmas lights of the year, which, might I add, didn’t make their appearance until AFTER Thanksgiving, thankyouverymuch. There was a very simple magic to the whole process, the season. And I waited to feel that every year.
Even as a young adult, there was still a lingering hint of that feeling as I started making my own money, which meant that I too could start buying gifts for those that I love. I actually quite enjoy the process of gift giving, of picking out that special something for a person who matters the most to you. There’s something indescribable about seeing their faces light up when they open something that you gave them that is from the heart.
I find myself dreading the holidays now that I am the ripe old age of thirty. Christmas decorations were put out in early September this year in our local Bon Ton. Kmart started airing Christmas commercials at the same time, according to news reports (I thank heavens we cut the cable cord months ago). Television commercials are chock full of messages telling you what you simply MUST receive this year, what you LACK, LACK, LACK, that you must buy x. y, and z for your child to be a top notch parent. (There was a line of commercials last year for a shoe store where there were ungrateful, hellish children pouting around until lovely Mommy gave them a bag with JUST the right pair of shoes in it, and a “VICTORY!” sign was raised, and the little demon spawn suddenly loved their mother so much. I wanted to throw up every time I saw those.)
When did my success as a parent come down to what I buy for my children? What happened to enjoying Halloween and Thanksgiving before Christmas? When did it become a holiday tradition to push, fight, claw, and trample fellow shoppers to score a $3 cheap-o, plastic blender on Black Friday, a blender that will likely be returned on December 26th? Why do we feel the need to “outdo” ourselves every year, to cater to demands and materialism, commercials and whining? One of the reasons I have misery in my life is due to the debt I accrued giving into those whims. It’s NOT WORTH IT.
Luckily, I feel grateful that my oldest child doesn’t seem to have any interest in video game consoles, specific toys, this or that or the other thing. Partially, I feel it is due to a lack of cable in the house (there’s none of those annoying commercials on PBS), and I feel blessed to have children who, so far, seem to understand that they don’t need to have every toy to be happy. I hope that continues.
Due to some financial struggles, our budget has been slashed in half this year, and that will be pushing it, quite honestly. I am planning on buying locally produced gifts from small businesses this year, and I might even try my hand at making some gifts. I intend to support Small Business Saturday (I NEVER participate in Black Friday). Today, I just placed an order for six handmade artisan gifts from a local farm to hand out to loved ones, and I feel like those small tokens mean so much more than some plastic thing I can buy on Black Friday because those tokens are made with love, care, and are handcrafted. I know we’ll have store bought presents in the mix, too. It’s a bit unavoidable for us. But even then, you can find those items sometimes secondhand at places like Goodwill and thrift shops (antiques, clothing, etc) and discount stores.
I really just don’t want to buy into the hype. Hype isn’t magic, and it’s my goal to try to bring magic back into my holiday season.