Every year I am irritated by the gross consumerism this season brings. The sights of people standing in line outside a store and the pushing other people over to get some sale item is ridiculous. True if you are in the market for some specific item and you can buy it for $100 less, I can see the motivation for going out in the early morning. I can’t see any reason to push, shove and otherwise make a scene over anything, no matter how cheap it is. Maybe I am just old fashioned. For any number of reasons, gifts are purchased and the long wait until Christmas starts. When Christmas finally arrives, gifts are opened and some are received with excitement and some are placed into the “it’s the thought that counts” category. So, back to the lines people go with their returns for cash or gift cards . Then there are the people who will not return it because they think it is rude, so they just keep it. What happens to that item? It gets added to endless piles of stuff that never gets used, but ends up being sorted through during an estate sale later.
Gift giving has gone too far when people are getting items they don’t like or need.
Don’t get me wrong. I have 4 kids and I enjoy giving them gifts and, naturally, the kids enjoy receiving them. It is about more than that, though. It is about being thoughtful about how, why and to whom gifts are given. When we pick gifts for our kids we look for things they are able to use for a longer period of time. In our house that means we purchase a lot of Legos, board games, books, or Geo Trax trains. These are things that they play together and never seem to get old.
Of course, there is a reason why we give gifts to our kids. I truly enjoy giving gifts to my kids, as most people do. I get the rationale there. What I don’t get is when a sense of pressure gets inserted into this joyful giving to spend a certain amount, or compete with other people. This pressure is not a necessary part of Christmas. The notion that someone is required to give a gift to someone who gave them one is rather silly.
We give because we want to give, not because we feel obligated to reciprocate the deed.
The season is about Jesus Christ, which is where that gift giving concept came from in the first place. We have been given far more, in Christ, then we could ever buy at the store. So, while a Christmas without presents might seem a bit over the top to most, I believe significant thought and control should go into the gifts that are given. This might bother retailers who rely so heavily on this season to balance their books, but it just might capture more fully the real meaning of this season.