Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait for Christmas day to come? You were literally counting down the sleeps until that special day? Looking back I remember the get-togethers, playing with my cousins, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, the music and mostly the excitement of the big day building up.
So what happens as we grow up? We stop believing in the magic of Christmas perhaps? We forget about the reason behind the season and the true meaning? We end up emptying our bank accounts and then some? It could be a number of reasons. I recently polled some of our Facebook followers to see what it is about the holiday season that really irks them. The answers were: commercialization, financial strain, expense, excessive gift buying, pressure to buy gifts, the drama, and the excessive packaging. One person also resented the fact that stores started decorating and playing music way before December.
I think that all of these are valid reasons for feeling a little Scroogey.
Problem: Let’s first address the holiday in terms of the expense of it all. Who do we buy present for and where do we draw the line? We make our list. We have our immediate family, our parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends…Oh! Don’t forget about teachers, bus drivers, the paperboy…let’s not forget about our Dr’s…I mean PULLEASE. Where does it end? No wonder we are broke and have negative feelings towards Christmas!
Solution: Narrow your list to suit your budget. There are other ways to show appreciation. And how many mugs and smelly things can one teacher have?! Do they want a gazillion #1 Teacher ornaments? I am guessing for the most part no. At least not the ones that I have spoken with . How about writing a letter to let them know how much they are appreciated? Believe it or not, not everyone wants to receive gifts. Seriously. Unless you find truly meaningful gifts who is to say that your bus driver wants 25 boxes of chocolates. Don’t buy just for the sake of buying.
Here are some other ways that you can show appreciation:
Three Alternatives To An Expensive Gift
- Quality Time (My favorite!) In my opinion this is the best way to show someone that you care. It is the chance to spend time together and make memories. I am more likely to remember the day we had together laughing and talking but chances but chances are I won’t remember or think too much about that sweater you got me.
- Make a Gift. My favorite gifts are the ones that people have spent time making for me. My husband has built things with his tools, my bff made a beautiful quilt for me, my mom has made me afghans. Over the years my hubby has written me poems. These are some of my most treasured things ever! Yes some of these things still cost money but if you already have the materials to make them then you can also save money. Another benefit of making your own gift is that there isn’t all of the excessive packaging that goes with store bought items. It’s a win-win.
- Offer your services. Offer to take your friend’s children for the day or for a sleep over so that they can have some time to themselves. That can be a real lifesaver when you need a break and don’t have family that is close by. Have your friends over for a nice meal or plan a day trip together. All of these things make for fun experiences.
More great ideas! Here are more alternatives to buying gifts from Leo at Zen Habits.
Problem: Consumerism. Consumerism is slapping Christmas in the face and turning it into a retail free for all. Companies are using Christmas as a prime time to market their products. They all claim to have the ‘perfect’ gift amongst all of the plastic and boxes. There are tons of toy commercials on TV this time of year; much to parents chagrin. There needs to be that balance between Christmas and consumerism.
Solution: Don’t buy into it. (Pun intended). Do what you feel comfortable doing. Spend what you are able to spend. There are some things that are out of our control like the commercials, the store’s music, decorations, and advertising. People feel pressured into buying from the ‘get a head start on Christmas’ slogans. You know that though? I cannot stress this enough…people need to start doing what is right for them. If you feel like the true meaning of Christmas is lost then how can you find it again? In a previous post I suggested sitting down with your loved ones and discussing exactly what your goals were for the holiday season. Make your Christmas mission statement. You may be surprised to know that gift buying and giving etc. isn’t what everyone cares about anyways.
Problem: Family Drama. This can be tricky. I feel like this one should be left to the experts. I get that all families have drama. Why does this exasperate at Christmas time? I know that some families have to drive all over God’s green (or white) earth at Christmas time. Some love hangin’ with the fam. while others just want to stay home. I haven’t had these issues because my husband’s family is all overseas, my parents live in the same town as me and my brother isn’t far away.
Also all families have different dynamics and get along or don’t get along for various reasons. Dealing with that when you are all together at Christmas can be tough.
Solution: Let the little things slide and deal with the big issues. In other words there comes a point when you realize that you cannot change people so you either accept them for who they are or move on. Well, with family this is a little more difficult especially at family functions. So the little things that annoy you should just be ignored while the things that are going to make you insane if you have to deal with them one more time should perhaps be dealt with in the form of a reasonable conversation. We hope that our families will act perfectly at all times but we know that this is not realistic so set your expectations a teeny bit lower.
My Christmas wish for you is to have a positively wonderful holiday season. Make the most out of what you have wherever you are. You can do it!!!