When did we go from a peaceful calm celebration with family, friends and/or neighbors to this commercial nightmare?
I am not going to tell you that Christmas is about baby Jesus. Of course for some it is, and I respect that. In fact, it is a beautiful way of celebrating. But Christmas can be many different things.
For me, Christmas is a big mix – of old Swedish pagan traditions with Lucia, Saffron bread, julbock (Yule goat) and placing fir branches in front of your door – and newer foreign traditions like decorating a Christmas tree, and advent calendars for the kids.
The one thing Christmas is not about for me, and really shouldn’t be – is all this running around like crazy, spending a full months salary on buying stuff for everyone you know. Especially since everyone you know probably has their own money to buy whatever stuff they want themselves.
And one look into the average kids bedroom will tell us they don’t really need any more stuff either.
You might argue that giving gifts is an act of love. And I might even agree, but gifts do not have to be bought and wrapped. Gifts can be time. In fact, the one thing most of us want more of in the last month of the year is… time. We all have the same amount of 24 hours a day, but too many spend a big part of those hours (and a big part of their yearly budget) on shopping for others. Maybe it is time to start prioritizing a bit differently?
A gift free Christmas might be a bit too big a step to take, but you can start slowly and take a small step each year. A first suggestion would be to give a few hours of your time to someone you love. Bake a cake for someone who can’t bake, help an older neighbor or relative set up their Christmas decoration or just sit down and listen to a friend over a cup of tea.
A second step would be to also let at least one of the gifts you give your kids be time. Give them a gift card for a trip, a picnic, a day at the zoo – anything that does not need a space in their probably already over filled rooms.
And a third step is to give to someone who really needs it. Get your family together and decide on a worthy cause. For kids, giving something specific is easier to understand. Like choosing to give a goat or school supplies to a family in need. Check out more inspirational ideas on sites like this one: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped
Once you get the hang of it, buying less stuff will make your Christmas so much more enjoyable.
Wishing you a happy and calm December!
By Lisa Fuchs, December 2014