Ladies and gentlehumans, it’s that time of the year again – Yuletide, Nativitatis, Noël, Navidad, Weihnachten…
A time of red and green everything, tinsel-festooned tomfoolery and of course… the endless lamentations of those who have missed the point of the entire endeavour. More on that in a bit.
Christmas, I will admit, is a very difficult time for me. I lost my little sister to a car accident on Christmas day, and the absence of my late-fiancee (who died a year and a half earlier) only makes the loneliness more pronounced. Despite this, I love Christmas. I love the feeling of joy and nostalgia it creates. I think the imagery of snowbound homes lit with bright lights, redolent of Christmas dinner and filled with happiness and, at least ostensibly, peace on earth, is a powerful thing.
You may feel that this is nothing more than an idealized Norman Rockwell painting, a myth created by a million Christmas movies, and nowhere near real life. You may think that the holiday season is a time for driving yourself to distraction, racing to find the perfect gifts for the humans in your life. If you’re like many humans, you’ll spend much of that time decrying the “commercialism” of Christmas, as if it were some sort of outside force, compelling folks to roam department stores like zombies, trying to find the perfect item for Uncle Joe or Aunt Martha.
The trouble is, it’s all nonsense.
Commercialism is, and has always been, a choice. Holidays like Christmas become commercialized because we decide that they are. We spend the months prior to the holiday shopping, spending far more than is necessary (and often, far more than is viable) on trinkets and baubles to satisfy a perceived sense of obligation. “Well I have to get them something for Christmas…”
Humans moan and whine about Christmas decorations going up “early,” as if being reminded of a time of joy and happiness is a bad thing. That, more than anything, says something about us and how we see the world, but… that’s another tale for another time.
On top of the perceived obligation is the stress of simply not knowing what kind of gifts to purchase. Stress levels increase, bank accounts decrease, and no one ends up any better for it in the end.
Let me share with you, if I may, a few methods help make Christmas far less stressful.
SHOP LESS, MAKE MORE
Yes, I’m serious, don’t look at me like that. Even something as simple as a homemade card says a lot more than giving someone a new MP3 player or a sweater. A homemade gift tells the recipient, “I’ve taken the time and care to craft this with my own hands, just for you.” It doesn’t really matter if it’s a masterpiece or not, as long as you put the time and effort in to do it. Considering how fast paced our lives supposedly are these days, (another tale for another time dear reader) taking the time to slow down and craft something is a meaningful gesture. Surely someone in your life is worthy of that? The alternative is to spend the same amount of time in traffic, or standing in line at a department store.
SHOPPING LOCALLY: A GIFT THAT GIVES TWICE
If you’d still like to buy something special for someone, consider shopping locally. Support a local artist by purchasing a piece of art or craft from a local gallery or gift shop. Support local businesses by avoiding the chain stores and corporate conglomerates. Not only will your recipient receive something truly beautiful, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting the local economy. Everyone wins.
PRESENCE VS. PRESENTS
The simple truth is, the humans on your Christmas list, those who love and care for you as you love and care for them, don’t want trinkets and baubles. Those are merely symbols, promissory notes representing something of far greater value. To paraphrase a popular (if obsequiously dreadful) holiday song, “All they want for Christmas… is you.” Put down your phone, turn off your computer. Really BE with the humans you love. Give them your full attention. They want your presence, not your presents.
These are just a few examples that can make Christmas more of what it actually is – a time to spend appreciating the humans in your life – than what societal cynicism and corporate greed would have us believe.
I would love nothing more than to have my fiancee and little sister with me again for Christmas. I no longer have that option, but it’s likely that the important humans in your life are still here, waiting for you. Don’t miss the opportunity to give them your full attention, love and compassion. It means more to them than you will ever know.
Don’t have anyone in your life? I understand that. There are many people out there who could use your compassion and love. Those struggling to make ends meet. The single mom or dad working two jobs just to keep the lights on. The person down on his luck who has nowhere to sleep, much less spend Christmas.
This holiday season, make the choice to give love and compassion as gifts. They cost nothing, but are worth more than you could ever imagine.
About the Author
I’m the CEO, Scribbler and Chief Fuss Maker of “Blü Creative.” I’m also an author, empath and ten-cent philosopher with an obsession for books and words that borders on the pathological. As a child I was bitten by a radioactive thesaurus and granted special powers – powers which I’ve sworn to only use for good. Most of the time. I’m a foodie, a passionately amateur cook and a sandwich connoisseur who’s capable of spending far more time in a Bed, Bath and Beyond than is entirely healthy for a human of my age and fighting weight. My other passions include classic black and white films, music, ballet and opera and all things steampunk. Like any good writer (and even a few lousy ones), I can always be found among the words.
Expect me when you read me…
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