What are you to do with all those gifts?!

This morning, I woke up at 6 am like a 4-year-old. I think Christmas is the one day a year you are allowed to act like a 4-year-old. I went outside on the lanai (my parents live in Florida, so I get to enjoy a warm holiday season free of snow-shoveling) and chatted with my mom for about an hour. We talked about how everyone working at stores and what not this year is saying “Merry Christmas” instead of the usual “Happy Holidays.” My thought is that the companies must have done some sort of market research that showed most people would rather be wished a “Merry Christmas.” Even those who don’t celebrate Christmas must not mind when it is said. Maybe not all, but I would say most. I know plenty of non-Christians that celebrate Christmas. Christmas has become on a non-religious holiday over the years. I won’t make any calls as to whether that is right or wrong. It is less about just Jesus’ birthday in a religious sense, and is about more getting together as a family. Sadly, it has also become more about gift-giving and commercialization.

Christmas started taking on a new meaning for me when I was 13 years old. My grandma passed away five days before Christmas and my family spent the holiday season driving out to Michigan and going to her funeral. We tried to make the best of it, but Christmas was never the same after that. No one cared about their presents that year. And every year following, presents began to matter less and less. Christmas was about getting together as a family, eating food and making memories. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. In fact, while that Christmas was a low point, it has gotten easier every year. The holiday has been cheerier, my sister and I have grown up more, and less presents have popped up under the tree, which I have enjoyed personally. Less presents means less stress each year.

This year I bought my parents one of these Soda Stream machines, so my mom doesn’t have to run out and buy my dad Coke Zero all the time, and my dad will never run out, AND it’s good for the environment 😉 I got a couple other little things, like some LUSH products for my mom and sister, but that is about it.

[To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t bought any presents until about a week ago, when my sister was talking about things she had bought my mom and dad. I told her I thought we weren’t exchanging gifts–then I guess I felt a little guilty I hadn’t gotten anything to give my parents. Furthermore, already she has found there were a couple things she got for them that they already have and she will have to return. See? Gift-giving and receiving is stressful.]

Anyway, this morning I came across a picture someone had posted online of their Christmas tree, surrounded by about 300 presents. Pretty much their entire living room floor was stacked with presents. The caption of the photo said this person’s parents “used to get just one or two presents on Christmas and they didn’t want the next generation to ever feel the same heartbreak on Christmas day.”

I just find it ironic when people “Thank God” for being so “blessed” with things. Being blessed isn’t about things. It’s about people. Remember The Gift of the Magi? In the end, both of the gifts that the man and woman get for each other are useless and serve no tangible material value, but they represent how much they love each other, and that is all that matters.

Giving a few gifts that you know will bring happiness to another person is one thing, filling a room with an excessive amount of material objects is unnecessary and in my opinion, really sad. To expect or even appreciate this kind of superficiality is sort of childish. Christmas should be about spending time with the people you love, not spending money on people you love to show them you love them. I feel grateful I have a family that realizes this.

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season, including all the people who woke up to a boatload of gifts. I hope you’re all spending the day with good food, good fun, and most importantly, your family.

I’m off to watch A Christmas Story with mine. =)

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