As a kid, there was nothing in the world that could ever compare to the feeling I would get when it was time to countdown days til Santa came. The feeling in the air was so strong, you could almost hang lights on it. In school, we really didn’t do much in the days directly preceding the holiday. I remember making lots of crappy arts and crafts like making reindeer out of hand prints on felt, or construction paper, and getting glue all over everything. We always made a million trips to different department stores, although my parents seemingly never bought anything (a David Copperfield trick). Charlie Brown, The Grinch, A Christmas Story, and Planes Trains, and Automobiles were on TV just about any time of day. Mom would cook, we all would eat, and the days would drag by. On the big day, I’d wake up as early as I could to make sure everybody in our house hated life that day, and would check out what I got. It was cool, because back then Santa had a pretty good bit of common sense. I got toys, but a lot of times I got stuff I could use too. Santa apparently always kept track of what size clothes I wore, and would make sure I got them when I needed them. As a kid, I thought it was less cool to get clothes than toys. Of course I did, all kids think that. I changed my thinking when I’d get to school and my buddies all had new clothes too. Looking back, I realize how practical that kind of thinking was. We buy our kids a million toys throughout their lifetime. In my opinion, we do it so much so that it loses its sense of being special to get a new toy. Christmas needs to be a special time for everyone. It’s about the christian tradition of celebrating the birth of the Christ. Giving gifts to each other is spun from the tale of the wise men giving the boy-king gifts out of reverence. Today we’ve taken the gift giving to a ridiculous extreme. We have a drive to spend the money that we spend all year fussing that we don’t make enough of. Can’t we scale things back a bit? What if instead of buying gifts for every single person we’ve ever met anywhere, we only bought a few practical items for those that mean the most to us. A lot of people will say “Joe, that’s all I do buy for, and I still have 136 people on my list.” I call B.S. Let me help weed out your list.
How about giving to those that you have given or plan to give your last name (spouse, kids, significant other),those who gave you THEIR last name (parents, spouse), and two other people that you would literally give a body organ to, to keep in your life. Did that help? As far as gifts, I think kids will always want toys, and it’s important that they do get some, but also get them something they can wear, something they can read, and something practical. If you give them every toy they want, they have nothing to work towards, nothing to save for. I want this year to feel like Christmas again. I want my kids to feel what I felt, and I’m going to do my part to make that happen.
I have to give credit to my wife Lara for this post. We’ve been talking a lot lately about how different Christmas is these days, and she recommended I write about it.