Giving gifts during the holidays has become big business and retail promotion seems to start earlier every year. Magazines, store flyers and colorful catalogs spark children’s desires of the ‘must-haves’ and ‘wants.’ What would our children really want if they were not exposed to all those enticing advertisements? How would their imagination kick in without the influence of TV and magazines? How contented might they be with just a favorite doll or truck to play with? I remember my grandmother telling me the story of her childhood excitement the year she found raisins in her stocking? Simple pleasures are lasting memories. And, raisins are healthy, of course!
Gift giving was not always the norm. There was a time when Christmas involved families celebrating and worshiping together. No gifts, just fellowship, and in some countries that is still the norm. What would your family and friends say if the holiday was void of presents?
The merging of Christmas and gift giving was a gradual one probably beginning before the birth of Christ. In ancient Rome, gifts were exchanged during the New Year’s celebrations. During the Northern European Yule, fertility was celebrated with gifts made of wheat products, such as bread and alcohol.
Christmas and other holidays have slowly become a scene of commercialism. The on-going message is to buy — buy big. This frenzy is encouraged by merchants who stand to benefit from a year-end buying binge. I ponder whether this push has done more harm than good to the holiday celebration as it empties our wallet and fills our homes.
This year I plan to continue with the tradition establish a few years ago for my grandchildren. There will be 4 gifts for each one:
- Something to read
- Something to experience
- Something to create
- Something to consume
These gifts do not need to be expensive. The criteria is thoughtful buying. I will spend some time choosing specific items in each category that I know they will be pleased to receive. I want to add treasures, experiences, memories, fun not just play-once-then-toss-aside toys. Maybe it is simply the joy of tossing around the stuffing within a box? Hum…
I also plan to continue to give gifts to family and friends as a token of love. So many people over the past year have meant so much to me. Maybe a tray of cookies or a basket of fruit is all that is needed to tell them I appreciate our friendship?
Holidays, especially Christmas, is a time to share, a time to acknowledge, a time to laughter, a time for joy. There is nothing better than to watch the expression on children’s faces as they encounter the love bestowed upon them on Christmas morning.
What is on your shopping list and how will you handle the frenzy and pressure of gift giving?
Leave a comment below and share your ideas of thoughtful giving.