NPR this evening mentioned a recent survey report that said 80 percent of respondents planned to buy fewer holiday gifts this year, and a large percentage (I forget the number) was planning to pay cash. Gift buying within our means? And in cash? How un-Christmas-y!
The slow economic recovery and uncertainty about the job market were the reasons that most gave for reining it in a bit this year. Of course this has retailers running scared and apparently the discounting has already begun. (when and how did the holiday shopping season become a business model?) While the report never specifically said it, the general tone was that this was bad news.
Except that it's not. It's not bad news for me, and I hope it's not for you either.
I was an only child and an only grandchild, so I'm completely familiar with a big Christmas. I can remember the piles of boxes and toys. But the thing that I remember most? White undershirts. Always from JC Penney, and always
From: Grandma & Grandpa
I'm sure they were unwrapped and unceremoniously tossed aside for something more fun, but that memory is still with me because of what it represented: Grandparents who wanted to give me everything I wanted, and made absolutely sure I had everything I needed. White undershirts, as unexciting as they are, meant love.
Brett and I realized a long time ago that we pretty much buy ourselves most things we want, so we downsized our Chrismas. Our hundred buck limit seemed harsh at first, but it forces us to be creative and pay attention. (okay, full disclosure, I actually paid for the sheets the dogs gave us last year) While I like presents as much as anyone, what I like more is when our family obligations are done and we get home, make a drink, and sit down to open our presents together. It's small and laid-back, and only sort of about the gifts, but it's my favorite thing.
I guess what I'm thinking is that as awful as the news seems sometimes, there are some good take-aways if we look for them. It's not our responsibility to prop up the retail sector by losing our heads in December and putting ourselves in debt for months. Nobody needs a bunch of stuff just for the sake of stuff. And just a little bit of thought can make the smallest gift the best gift. Sometimes less really can be more.
And while I'm on the subject, none of this should start before Thanksgiving.