The media reports that almost 7 out of 10 people would like to stop giving Christmas gifts. A large number say they would be interested in spending more time with family if there was no expectation of gifts.
CHRISTMAS IS A HUGE MONEYMAKER
Retailers conduct more than 50% of their business at this time of year. Sales get more competitive and the merchandise even more tacky in the fourth quarter, as retailers seek to put their businesses in the black.
The excitement of Christmas is just one of the countless ways ‘Madison Avenue mentality‘ is used by businesses to manipulate us into spending our hard-earned money with them.
Some atheists and a number of Jews have a Christmas tree, according to a 2013 Pew survey.
A 2016 ING study found that 70% of Americans feel that Christmas is too focused on spending.
The non-stop shopping frenzy begins earlier every year, with each progressing year becoming more intense and overwhelming.
Tearing out early on Thanksgiving afternoon to join the mad stampede at crowded ‘churches-of-commerce’ (malls), to snatch the latest advertised sale deal and overspend on a silk blouse to mend a rift, taking time away from our families, and wasting money to lavish people with gifts that we can’t afford….all because a gift is expected.
The season is an excuse for excesses: endless commercials, hearing dogs barking Jingle Bells, stressing over getting up all our gaudy decorations to spill off of the roof into the yard, days spent in the kitchen cooking, and baking, which will be quickly devoured, once healthy trees chopped down and hauled into living rooms to be ‘oohed and aahed’ over for a few days until are dragged to the curb for trash pickup, “ugly” sweaters, wreaths on the front of SUVs, felt antlers on pets; long lines at the post office, overindulging in fattening goodies shared by friends and families and wearing ourselves to a frazzle.
WHAT OFTEN HAPPENS TO THOSE GIFTS WE BOUGHT
While we don’t really have the time to shop we shop at every opportunity in order to find the perfect gift, to exchange with people who rip into our carefully wrapped gifts and let us know with a look of distaste that it isn’t what they wanted or it wasn’t enough. Tossed aside, tomorrow it will be shoved into an already cluttered closet to be forgotten, until spring where it will be touting a bright orange $.50 garage sale sticker.
22% of Americans buy Christmas gifts on credit.
Americans waste $9.5 billion, or $71 per person, on unwanted gifts each year, according to a study from Finder.com.
We all have so much stuff that we don’t treasure everything.
MORE WASTE AT CHRISTMAS….
Tons of torn wrapping paper, boxes and bows are pitched, millions of trees are discarded and an enormous amount of electricity is used to show off those colorful displays of snowmen ice skating around the yard while Alvin and the Chipmunks sing and a smiling Santa waves from the roof while his entire herd of reindeer circle around him.
Why not give gifts of experience?
WHY WE BUY INTO THE BELIEF THAT WE MUST EXCHANGE GIFTS
- Society is a strong force in our lives. Many of us, desperate to fit in, are concerned what others will think of us if we reject commercial madness of Wall Street.
- Psychotherapists have said that some of us are just not skilled at sharing our love and gratitude with words.
Those who can’t buy as much for their loved ones are often embarrassed and ashamed. Sadness and depression often follows.
Feeling pressured, we lose the joy of gifting with the obligatory gift-giving for our co-workers, hair stylist, mailman, child’s teacher, bus driver, neighbors, etc.
Many of us struggle with how to address this ever growing mess of obligatory giving, mismatched expectations and the associated stress and depression.
Our giving spirit has been lost amidst the insanity of the excess and expectation of material trappings, yet we have been afraid to voice that we are tired of all the stressful Christmas gifting ritual, for fear we will be called un-Christian.
Those who no longer participate in ‘obligatory gift giving’ say they have heard from many other family and friends who appreciate their bravery in speaking up. Now, with the complete absence of frenzy and pressure, there is the blessed gift of peace and quiet to just enjoy others and money is freed up for causes they believe in. There is time to count our blessings, show compassion, appreciate the people around us and express gratitude, thanking God for family, friends and health.
Although spending time and money to help those in need is not Wall Street’s idea of Christmas, giving voluntarily throughout the year to the those disenfranchised by the world can bring renewed hope to those who so desperately need it. The joy we receive by connecting with others bestows upon us a richer, deeper meaning of the season, as we get back much more than we give.
Articles written at Christmas about what people “should” be doing with their holiday shames people. On a misdirected burst of generosity, suddenly 100 people show up Christmas Eve, demanding to “help” by volunteering their time. Instead, why not reach out to help others throughout the year.
We celebrate Christ by showing compassion to the poor— strangers, friends and families. Matthew 25:37-40
Today with so much excess in America, I pray to reach people honestly in need to help.
May God grant me eyes to observe the world around me daily to see a true need and a heart to help.
When we quietly help others, without telling anyone (Matthew 6:2 ), there is no hegemony, no competition to outdo one another, no desire to show off, and no envy from others.
The best gift for children, which is superior to ‘stuff’ any day, is the experience of sharing with those in greater need. Kids learn and appreciate the opportunity to give others joy and hope by compassion.
We can either give socks to someone who has everything, or to someone for whom it would mean the world: preschool children from low-income families, wearing worn-out shoes in the snow and the same dirty clothes for several days or a homeless teen who would be thrilled with a new package of underwear.
Giving of our time, instead can mean the world to someone, just by knowing that someone cares
“But, my church teaches that we give (and get) gifts to remember God’s gift to us, the birth of Jesus….”
Do we really believe that the out of control commercialization of the Christmas season, which bears no resemblance to Christ, who was not even born on December 25th, is to celebrate the birth of Jesus?
Although God could have chosen any means of presentation for the radical birth of Christ His Son, the simplicity and lowliness of a manger was so as not to distract from God’s GIFT to us.
Those of us who fill our lives with objects that bring empty promises of joy and fulfillment are the needy. If we choose to receive this wonderful present, Christ’s presence can bring us freedom, humility, and joy, to which nothing else can compare.
The choice is ours.