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Thoughts on Christmas Gifts

Today is Christmas which I grew up celebrating. We were a religious family so my parents made sure we knew it was about the birth of Christ. But that didn't keep them, me, and my siblings from getting sucked into the marketing and consumeristic aspects of the holiday.

Reflecting now many decades later, my thoughts on the holiday have changed. I enjoy the season, the spirit, the decorations (to an extent), the food, the movies and music, and the time with family and friends. What I like less and less is the gift giving aspect. Now being self aware of the impact of consumerism on our planet, it's difficult to see store shelves stocked with endless rows of stuff that people may or may not want and that will likely end either being returned immediately, donated/re-gifted/resold within a year or two of receiving, or in a landfill.

The other challenge I see is the holiday obviously is centered around giving children gifts from their wish list. What this does is embed a sense in children that happiness is tied to stuff, and if they don't get it, they are unhappy. This is dangerous thinking that is being formed in our children's minds. They instead should learn gratitude for what they have and how to work towards things they want but don't have.

Plus reflecting on my own childhood, imagine if my parents invested that money. Instead of new Nike shoes, they bought Nike stock. Instead of the latest computer or iPod, they bought Microsoft or Apple stock. Instead of buying things from Walmart or Amazon, they bought their stock. It would have been a much more valuable lesson as a kid. Plus I would have had quite the nest egg and likely not even remember the things years later that I didn't receive.

We need to recognize what this holiday has become in our culture. The gifting aspect is not healthy. Gifts should not be the expectation. They should only be given if you know it will truly mean something to the person receiving it and be cherished and used by them. My favorites gifts are ones of experiences especially between the person giving and the person receiving. What better gift than to share a memory with someone!

So this Christmas, think about what you are buying and who you are buying it for. Ask yourself what it will mean to them and what they will do with the item 1-2 years from now. Aside from kids clothes or things that are intentionally single use, please make sure what you buy the receiver will cherish and use.