Toward a Less-Commercial Christmas

By , December 1, 2013

The Christmas season’s upon us. Insert your favorite phrase here to express loathing for the over-commercialization of holidays. Of all the simple gifts our family enjoys, perhaps the best is a Christmas celebration that doesn’t rely on commercial forces.

I’m not going to talk about the spiritual side of Christmas. It’s hard to imagine anything less festive than yet another lecture on why we should be celebrating Christmas, and what we should focus on.

Instead, I’ll describe the ways we try to keep Christmas simple.

We avoid setting gift-giving rules for Christmas. Growing up, my family would declare “homemade gift only” Christmases. While this is a great idea on its face, the limitation often seemed problematic. Invariably, I’d be at a loss for ideas, while stumbling upon the perfect store-bought gifts for the people on my list!

It’s far less stressful to leave the option open to the gift giver That’s when I get truly inspired! (See The Real Value of Homemade Gifts.)

We must be a truly contented family, because gift giving is actually a bit of a problem for us. Ask any one of us what we want for Christmas, and we’ll be at a loss. Not that we can’t come up with something, but within reasonable parameters, we seem to have all we need (see Develop Healthy Attitudes Toward Your Belongings). Each year we’re challenged to find small gifts that would appeal to the recipient. We’re not totally purchase-free by any means. Even on our restricted income, we buy gifts for each other, if appropriate. We even go so far to throw in unnecessary gifts, little things that delight without being particularly useful.

The difference is that rather than go out looking for gifts, we plan the purchases before hand. We try to avoid impulse buying, not only because it’s more expensive, but often leads to giving gifts that are not as well suited to the recipient as a planned gift might be.

Christmas, then, seems to be less about gifts for us than celebrating the season through company, food, music, reading, and contemplation. I wish I could tell you how to achieve this for yourself, but I can’t. Maybe it’s the way we were raised, and the way we’re raising Aly? We all have an appreciation, a reverence for the season that goes far beyond giving and receiving gifts. Free of the obligation to match or exceed the gifts given or received last year, we have more freedom to relax and enjoy the holiday. Perhaps it’s worth a try?

2 Responses to “Toward a Less-Commercial Christmas”

  1. Patricia says:

    My family stopped giving Christmas gifts about ten years ago – all the kids were grown, and it seemed like a natural choice. Christmas is now about getting together for family time. It’s taken SO MUCH STRESS out of the whole thing. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but it certainly worked for us.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Wow, more power to you! We like to at least stuff stockings for each other. Er, *ahem* I mean, hang stockings for Santa Claus to fill! But more and more, the focus is the evening meal, or, for me, Christmas Eve. That’s become the holier moment for us, when the season is at full ebb, and the anticipation of the morning remains. That feeling’s priceless, even if no one finds an expensive new car with a giant bow on it outside the next morning.

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