Some thoughts on the holidays

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

To: David
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.


Raina Cox said...

I think NPR just found a guest commentator.

Well said.

Living the life in The Little City said...

Good thoughts, David. We do the same sort of anti-stuff Christmas.

home before dark said...

I agree with you. Instead of underwear my great aunt would make all children (grandchildren, great nieces and nephews) PJ's with matching robes. The girls got jammies with her hand-made tatting. We all thought it was weird. Today, would love someone to do that kind of caring, to say nothing of that kind of skill, for me!

My husband and a I choose to buy as we need and make the holiday meals with new and different wines our gifts to each other. We buy the house something for Christmas, and the garden something for our anniversary. Works for us.

amymezzell said...

Bravo! Well said and right on time. I agree 100%.

Karena said...

Very good David. I agree with all of this. It is too stressful to worry about the holiday "obligations" , just enjoy. Yes, none of Xmas before Thanksgiving please!

soodie :: said...

Oh David... sweet.

gifts were cancelled in my immediate household Q4 of last year as well as this year with the recession. I really missed that thoughtful exchange. (I don't think my other did.) But as you described, it is the quiet, alone part that is so meaningful -- it doesn't matter what it is, it is the thought. Even if it is one lone scented candle, or a10 cent wine opener... something to indicate all has not been forgotten.