On Christmas Giving – and Why I’m NOT Doing Much Of It This Year…

November 27, 2010 at 18:38 (Christmas, Consumerism, Holidays, Rambles and Rumbles, Voluneering and Community Service, Work and Life)

Before you rant your “baa-humbugs” at me, please actually read what I have to say.  It is both important for me to say it and important for me to have you read it.

Christmas today is an overly commercialized spending guilt trip, juxtaposed with Christian religious overtones.  Maybe once upon a time, the gift buying and giving had a REAL meaning, but today, it’s harder than ever to see it.

I won’t go into the TRUE origins of Christmas because of two reasons: 1.) I don’t know enough about it and whatever I DO say I’m sure to get flamed on and 2.) I’m not in the mood to look it up for you for once.  I seem to remember it dealing with the Baby Jesus being born to a virgin Mary in some far off place long ago.  I stop at there.

I believe that the gift God gave the world in the form of his only Son is not only amazing, but simply unmatchable.  Not even the top-ten most expensive list, specially made Neiman-Marcus, certified-non-combat diamond encrusted edition of the Bible, written on gold sheets, with Jesus’ words inlaid in microscopic rubies, even comes close.  And NOTHING ever will.  That’s the point, people!

The celebration of Christmas today is,  as I mentioned, a time for us together together, give thanks for what we have (although American’s seem that one winter holiday to give thanks to God isn’t enough, so we have Thanksgiving too!), and exchange gifts probably can’t afford for ones with ones that we probably don’t need.  For some reason, however, the whole “gathering together and giving thanks” aspect of Christmas almost completely outweighed with the “buying STUFF” aspect.  How could we get it so backwards?!  (That is a rhetorical question, I won’t even try to answer, and I suggest that, for your own sanity, you don’t either.)

I’m not sinless here, in the “buying stuff” category, but I’d like to think I’m less obsessed with it than most people.  First of all, I LIMIT who I get “stuff” to give.  For example, I’ve bought things for my husband, my littlest nieces, my Dad (and step-mom), and I’m going to try to figure up something to get for my mom.  And I have a REASON I get stuff for each of them!

I buy things for my husband for two main reasons: 1.) I love him and think he’s wonderful and want to get him everything his heart desires because of it; and 2.) he values it in his heart.  That said, I don’t get him things for Christmas that I wouldn’t otherwise get him any other time of the year.  Or, in the case of some items, I save up the ideas for Christmas to make them especially special.  Or, last but not least, it’s something he needs anyways, and Christmas just happens to be a good time to get/give it.

I buy things for my nieces because of the fun it is to be a child on Christmas Day (although so do the other 5,000+ relatives they have, so they are actually pretty hard to buy for).  For their Christmas’ and Birthday presents, I try to remember what I loved about being a kid and what my favorite things were (not favorite GIFTS, but favorite THINGS – most of the time I can’t remember if my favorite things were gifts or not).  So I opt-out of the super-new high-tech, or the uber-educational, or the biggest-thing (or next-biggest-thing) and try to get simple.  This year, they each will be getting a CD (and book, which goes with the CD but which I KNOW will be lost – just like mine was – with in minutes of opening the CD [OK, mine ways an AUDIO TAPE, if you remember what THOSE were]).

I probably listened to these two tapes by myself, in the car, and in any other tape player I could use – until either the tapes broke or the player broke (and I seem to have a memory of tapes being eaten and torrents of tears until the tape was replaced).  Some odd twenty-years later, I’m sure my mom and dad (and sister, although probably not so much my brother because he’s 15 year older than me and could have avoided it) STILL know the songs from the tapes.  And now my nieces will get to enjoy them too.  😀  Yes, Kim… I DO love you, and someday you’ll forgive me for giving your children this wonderful gift.

As for my parents, the reason I buy something for them is simple.  They gave ME the gift of life (with acknowledged help from God, I kn0w).  Still, much God’s gift to the world, I really can’t top what my parents did for me.  I can never show how much I appreciate my life, the opportunities that I have, and the things I am and will become because of them.  So if I try each year to give them something that shows my thankfulness for what they gave to me, great.  I’ll never even come close to “matching” the cost or emotion that has gone into my almost-thirty years of life from those two people.  And I know that even know, it’s often bittersweet for them.  I’m not perfect; I’m often sick, either of mind or body; I don’t always agree with them – and my flaws by far make me undeserving of the love and caring they have given me all through my life.

So, for Christmas, and for their Birthdays (when I can), I try to tell them in words, deeds, or gifts what I feel for them.  How very much I love them.  There would be NO Christmas’ or Birthdays, no Easter’s or Thanksgivings’, no daily drives to work and no celebrations of life – there would be nothing for me if they (and, again God) had not made me. So Mom and Dad, though you aren’t reading this, Thank You.  Thank you for ME.

*Pause for author’s crying and recovery…*

Getting back on topic, I believe that, with the exceptions mentioned above, and even with-in those exceptions, glutton purchasing at Christmas is not right.  We don’t have the money; we don’t have the time; we have other, more important priorities.  But society has placed upon us this mantel of requirement that says “GO FORTH AND BUY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR EVERYONE!!”  And gosh-forbid that some one buy YOU something and you didn’t buy THEM something.  Not only is this a social faux pas, it is seen as insulting to the giver and the giftee.

FREAKING INSANE.

If I don’t buy you a Christmas present, or a card, or whatever is somehow expected of me in our society, why is that so important?!  I don’t expect anyone to get me anything, although people usually do, and that’s nice.  But I can honestly say that one of the gifts I received last year from a person who shall rename nameless, who bought me a gift because they felt they should or whatever reason – I NEVER USED IT.  Ever.  Tried, a time or two, but just didn’t get to it.  Sorry!  It isn’t that I don’t value your gift, but it just isn’t the kind of thing I use much.

Which brings me to another point.  Whenever you buy ANYONE a gift, for whatever reason, don’t waste your time and money (and their time and feelings, because believe me, getting a gift from someone that just bought it for you to get something for you and didn’t take into account who I am as a person hurts a little) if you don’t take the time to KNOW the person and know what to get for them that THEY will like.  All to often, people buy other people gifts that THEY want or think would be cool, with out really taking the giftee into mind.  Really, what’s the point?

Christmas is a holiday intended to bring about love and caring for our fellow man (and woman).  That feeling doesn’t have a price tag on it!  It can be shown with thoughts, words, and deeds just as much as it can be shown with “gifts”.  And it doesn’t even have to be regulated to one time of the year – it should be the constant spirit with which we deal with each other, every day.

So, on closing of this blog post (hey, I’m still feverish – maybe that accounts for some of this post, actually…), I will say this.  To my friends and family – I care deeply for you and love you despite our differences – I shouldn’t have to buy you gifts to show you that, as I try to show you that with every step I take in my life.  To those I don’t know very well – I wish you all you hope for in your soul (not your mind).

I’m sure I’ll touch on Christmas again before the season is out, but for now, one last thing:

I’m NOT Jesus or God.  I can’t give you myself unconditionally as They have.  But I have spent two years of my life volunteering to make THIS world, OUR world better.  I continue to volunteer in one way or another – and I do it for YOU.  That is my Christmas-Birthday-Holiday gift to you, forever.  I work to do good in this world, and I do that good so the world will be a better place for you and your children.  I volunteer not for the glitz and glam and paycheck (obviously), but as my continuing gift to you.  It’s got no dollar value, and maybe if I stopped doing it, few would notice.  Maybe you’ll never see the benefits yourself (and maybe I won’t even get to see them).  But that isn’t the point.  The point is to make this world a better place through our own accountability, thoughts, actions, and deeds.

You can take a grain of sand from a beach, but you can’t begin to build a beach with out starting with just one grain of sand.

Yours in service,

-MK

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2 Comments

  1. The Director said,

    For me, personally, my intention with gifts, if not always the hoped-for result, is to get people something either uniquely special to them or that they will have fun with, and/or ideally, that they will have fun time with WITH me and others, thus resulting in fun memories… And I like to get people things that they otherwise wouldnt have, but will hopefully enjoy/use… That’s my personal gift-giving philosophy/ideal anyway, right or wrong.

    • mousekitty said,

      I’m not opposed to others that give gifts, and generally, when I do give gifts, I follow your line of thought. But I’m just fed up with the “mandatory” gift giving the season has devolved into. It makes me sad, and, in my humble opinion, has nothing to do with the real meaning or intent of Christmas. Maybe someday Christmas will get better and go back to more of the basics – but, in reality, I only see it getting worse, sadly. 😦

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