Unplugging the Christmas machine

December 11, 2006 at 2:46 am | Posted in simplicity | 3 Comments

Whoa! I just went out to pick up supplies at the local Target, and what a madhouse! I forgot how stressed folks get themselves with buying stuff. Finding the perfect gift, the perfect card, and trying to keep from going into permanent debt doing it. I actually have a relative that charges all her kid’s Christmas presents cause she can’t afford what all she gets them. I mean, these kids have everything and sure don’t need anymore, but they get it. Who knows? They might feel deprived, or have to deal with the emotions of seeing someone else have something they don’t. These kids get so much stuff that they can’t ever play with it all.We don’t do that. We pulled out of the whole mess years ago. First, we quit doing Christmas cards. You would have thought we were torturing the baby Jesus with the way people reacted. We had decided that if we hadn’t spent time with you in the last year, you didn’t need a card. If we only saw you at work, and didn’t like you much there, no card. And finally, if we just plain couldn’t stand you, “No Card!” We had a neighbor who was a rather evil individual and always rude to me, yet the day after Thanksgiving, every year, she placed a Christmas card in our mailbox. I always begrudgingly wrote one back. Finally, I stopped. Ya know what? The world did not come to a crashing halt! Once people realized that is wasn’t personal to them, it was great! So much stress relieved! So much paper saved! Good for environment, checkbook, and mental health!

Not long after that, we sat all the grownups down at Thanksgiving and told them that we thought we ought to stop buying each other presents. I told them I felt the nicest thing I could give them was not having to stress over finding us something, and to not have to worry about hurting my feelings when they took whatever we gave them back. Surprisingly, everyone agreed! It was like a big collective sigh of relief. The next Thanksgiving, the adults sat down and decided that we were not going to buy for each other’s kids. Grandparents give gifts, and aunts and uncles do not. Another collective sigh (except from the greedy sister who always asks for expensive stuff for her kids, but gives everyone else’s cheap stuff). Life has been grand since then. Now, we might make some homemade gifts for our friends, but that is it. No rushing around shopping, card mailing, and putting ourselves into debt each year just so we can feel like we are “doing out duty.”

So, I watched those folks out there with their expensive toys for little people, and their stressed out selves, and wonder if the kids would just be happier to have their parents home spending quality time with them. I know I would rather be with mine.



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  1. Here! Here!

    A big draft of beer raised in agreement. Yes, it’s a fictious draft. 🙂

    There is enough greed throughout the year and so many other teachable “gift required moments” that adding the stress and detering from the meaning of the Season just isn’t necessary. We can teach our kids to be materialistic by just perusing the grocery store, no need to actually bring it into the home.

    To add to this stream of thought, being specific about the kinds of toys and the values you are teaching your children with those who want to buy them gifts can also relieve you. It’s taken some time but even the most hard-core “don’t deprive those babies!” family members seem to at least know that we don’t want a bunch of electronic, non-imaginative/educational items given to the girls. They don’t get used b/c soon after the giving, the girls are deterred and then gladly help us pack them up for give away.

    It’s time for us all to Simplify our Lives and starting LIVING them. Man, did I go on a rant or what???

  2. Hey…no fictious beer her….only the real stuff will do! 🙂

    I third the emotion. God only knows what we will be getting as gifts from the hurried people!

    Psst….Shana come see me on my site!!


  3. Ahh the crazy things people do to themselves.
    I can So relate,lol
    We used to be like that but have now scaled it all back.
    It feels so much nicer now!
    We’ve taken the last step this year and will not being buying
    anything for our ungrateful nephews who we NEVER see and who couldn’t be bothered to thank us for the last two years presents.
    Would you believe I felt guilty for not wanting to buy them anything?
    Not this year! Ha.
    This is a great post!

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