Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm dreaming of a....

So, Christmas.

Here's the thing. There are things about the holiday season that I love, truly love. The music, the food, the family togetherness, the marvelous television specials, receiving cards from friends and family who are far away. Heck, I even love the Christmas card letters.

But something's been gnawing at me, and last night it all bubbled to the surface.

It's the present thing. It's out of control, people. Kids in TV land, you're being duped!

We're being sold on this idea that the only way to show people that you care about them is by running out to the mall or, even more, the big box retailer that treats human beings like cattle, and spend as much of your hard-earned money as possible. Preferably with plastic. The kind that, at best, overdraws your checking account. At worst, puts you in some really amazing debt.

How did this happen to us? How did we get the idea that if you love somebody, you need to buy them a bunch of mass-produced crap that probably has lead paint in it. And, if you're extra lucky, it was made by some kids in a third world country who work eighteen-hour shifts for pennies a day! Awesome! Because that's the spirit of Christmas/Hannukah/Kwaanza, right?

I saw something on the news the other day that gave me hope. This guy is spreading a new gospel. True, he's not likely to be taken seriously. But what if we all listened?

Would it ruin our holidays to skip (or at least greatly reduce) the gifts?

How much is too much?

How much do you really need?

Where is it going to go?

Who gets hurt because of this gift?

And while I was considering these questions, one of my favorite bloggers wrote about a great campaign in the U.K. One that really, in my mind, fits the bill.

So, if you're reading this and you were going to buy me a gift, don't. There are a lot of fantastic charities out there who need it more than I do. I have plenty of stuff. More than I'll ever need, really. And if you need charitable suggestions, I've made a great shopping list for you.

Heifer International
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Planned Parenthood
Boys & Girls Club

And there are so many more who need help.

I won't begrudge you the tax deduction, either.

Tomorrow? How to approach the kids and sell them on the idea.


kdiddy said...

interesting. I was thinking of posting something today or tomorrow about how I really don't want to give or receive many presents and how this was spurred on by my son's upcoming birthday which is just a few short weeks before christmas. I feel gross at the thought of how much crap he's going to get and I don't want to do any of it anymore.

Mom said...

It is a conundrum. How can you make a gift that really helps someone, while letting your own family know that they are really important to you? Wish I had a great answer, but I don't. Some people are only affirmed by the gifts they are given (my mother)while others recognize that there is so much need in the world that they don't need more "stuff." My own friends seem to "get it" and make contributions to worthy causes. My check to Heifer went out today. But, there will be a few gifts mailed to people I love and want to celebrate with every year, to recall the past we share and to reconnect. So, my dear children, your gift is part of a cow that will help a family that has very little. You are blessed! No sermon coming on the Prince of Peace, you've heard it.

kristabella said...

Very interesting.

I agree. I don't need anything. No one in my family needs anything. My niece and nephews don't need any more toys.

I had already decided that this year I was going to cut way back and just give things that mean more than something from a big box retailer.

Candy said...

I dunno...we've had so many years of financial difficulties, that I never feel like my kids get enough stuff. Christmas is the one time I remedy it, and I don't want to change that. For me, it's about the giving. For them, it's about the receiving, I know. But as they are just beginning to have money of their own, they're realizing how much fun it is to buy something special for someone you love. So that's ok, too.

Hot Librarian said...

The kids are getting presents (books). The adults are getting consumables (wine, soy candles) and adopted polar bears.

MY kid is getting toys from us, but they were all purchased used (which is easy for a 1 yo, a lot harder for your kids' ages).

We are going for a less waste/less crap Christmas.

winslow1204 said...

You are soo right!!

kalisah said...

see, now I much prefer the gifts to the family togetherness.

Ha, just kidding.


Maurey Pierce said...

Stuff is nice, but it's a fleeting pleasure.

I'd also encourage people to consider a donation to their local food bank, which helps so many working parents and children.

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