Seeing as how we’re right into the thick of Christmas shopping season, I thought I’d ask. What kind of ‘gifter’ are you? Do you buy something for yourself every time you buy a gift for someone else? Or almost every time?
I was never that extreme, but I have been known to indulge. To see something that caught my fancy. Something I hadn’t planned on, or even thought of. Which, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, meant I didn’t need it. But when did that stop anyone? Retailers love spontaneous shoppers. And, quick as a bunny, I’d snatch it up. Almost guiltily, mind you. Because I was supposed to be shopping for others.
Now I see folks literally staggering under the weight of all the gifts they’ve bought and I think they’re nuts. Especially in these times. I’m reformed, you see. Those days are behind me. Happily, too.
To be totally honest when it comes to Christmas gifts, in particular, I’ve become a bit of a scrooge. For years, now. First of all, most of my friends and family need another sweater, bathrobe, pair of pyjamas, scarf, book, kitchen gadget, magazine subscription or wallet like they need a third eye.
Same goes for perfume, cologne, after-shave, bath oil, bath salts, bubble bath, scented candles, bath pillows,
massage oils, exotic olive oils, gourmet spices, cheese knives, salad tongs, wine openers, decanters and candle holders.
And at the price of mixers, indoor grills, iPads, sports equipment, flat screens (even small ones), designer handbags and the like, even in my more generous days I was probably the wrong Santa for this, particular job.
Come on, admit it. If I wasn’t right, the lines at the ‘return’ counter of every store wouldn’t be longer than the lines were, when you bought all the ‘stuff’ in the first place; and were standing there, overheated and tired, waiting to pay for it.
Christmas really is for kids, anyway. At least the ‘gift’ part. So everyone in my life decided, long ago, that we’d forgo gifts for each other. Concentrate on the wee ones. In recent years, though, I’ve realized even this goes too far. We’ve all seen kids on Christmas morning. The hysteria. Gift wrap and tissue and ribbons and bows, cards and gift tags littering every square inch of floor. Along with discarded gifts. Abandoned toys. Clothing tossed here and there.
The ‘thrill’ is in the ‘hunt’. And once the initial excitement of ripping off the paper and seeing what’s inside wears off, it’s all about opening the next present. And the next. And the next. Until everyone’s exhausted. And then it’s time for breakfast and a nap. With everything left under the tree. It’s not that the kids are bad. It’s not their fault.
With the best intentions in the world, it’s what we’ve trained them to do. We’re responsible for the behaviour. We’ve created the expectations. We’ve made Christmas about gifts. Indulgence. Over indulgence. Excess. We’ve put the emphasis on the wrong syllable, so to speak.
Really, we’re not doing anybody any favours, either. Not them. And not ourselves. To the contrary, we put ourselves under enormous pressure to ‘top’ the previous year’s bounty. We feel guilty and ashamed if we have to tighten our belts a bit. If we can’t give them EVERYTHING their little heart’s desire. If we have to send them back to school or daycare feeling less then blessed. Unable to ramble off all the gifts they got. Unable to compete with their mates.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for giving kids some gifts. In moderation, is all I’m saying. What’s wrong with one, or two? Isn’t this the perfect time to teach them it’s not about how many or how much? How big? How expensive? Wouldn’t this be a perfect time to teach them about being charitable? To get them involved (even the young-uns) in making or buying gifts for all the children for whom Christmas will pass, without even one present. To let them come with you, to deliver them, so they can appreciate how lucky they are.
Previous generations have been all about ‘greed’. That’s why we’re in this mess. All that can change, though.
We have an opportunity to create a generation that’s all about caring. And sharing. Concern for others. Respect for others. Generosity of spirit. Compassion. Everything in moderation. And what a gift that would be for the world.