I love Christmas. If you ask anyone that knows me, they’ll tell you that I’m a HUGE Christmas guy. I love the happiness in the air during the holidays, I love how nice people are(they’ll even let you merge in a traffic jam!), and most of all I love spending time with the important people in my life. Nothing beats quality time spent with family or stopping by a friends house just because you want to wish them a Merry Christmas and have some Christmas cheer.
What I don’t love about Christmas is the amount of stress I feel. I doubt I’m alone on this one and that many people feel the clock ticking and crunch time of the season.
It starts by making a list of wayyy to many people that you think you need to buy for. Do you really need to buy that person a gift just because you’ve bought them one before? It gets to the point where you don’t know what they’d even want so you just buy them random crap that you think they might like(which they’ll end up not using and throwing out) or that the person straight up tells you what to get them, you buy it and that’s that. Where is the fun in that? I’ve had times in the past where I can’t even remember if I exchange gifts with a friend anymore, so I either ask them which is awkward and leads to the “should we buy gifts?” talk (which would usually end up in a yes) OR I don’t get them something but I buy ‘spare presents’ just in case they got me something. Once you have your list nailed down, you actually have to find time to go shopping or stress about if your online order is going to show up in time. Then you get the gifts, and the stress continues with late nights of wrapping and trying to plan a time to deliver them between busy schedules.
Gifts are just the beginning…. Do you need to have the best front porch display on your street? If your neighbor gets a blow up Christmas R2D2 it doesn’t mean you need a Christmas Yoda. Do you need to send out 400 christmas cards? That’s a ton of money in cards and stamps. You could save yourself from having a melt down about when you are going to find time to write your Christmas letter, address the cards and get them to the mailbox in time so people actually get them before Christmas (only to realize that most people throw them out come January). Do you really need to bake individual boxes of Christmas treats for all your friends? Is it worth stressing out about the baking you HAVE to do, not the baking you want to do? Do you really need a new fancy dress for your work Christmas party and another cheap Christmas sweater?? It goes on and on.
Then there’s the financial stress. Who has money for living like this? I definitely don’t like looking at my credit card statement come January. We buy and buy and buy, and then have to work and work and work to pay it off. We are bred to be consumers and it is ingrained in our systems. Every commercial on television is telling us what we should buy as gifts and putting pressure on us to find that perfect gift.
Try something different this year. Only do what truly makes you happy. Don’t feel pressured to do a bunch of different things, pulling you in a million different directions and making you frazzled. As a kid, I don’t have memories of the material things I got for Chrismas, but I have memories of the times spent with family and friends. I remember my cousins and I waiting anxiously for our parents to be done dishes so we could open presents. I remember skating out on a pond. I remember sleigh rides. I remember setting out the milk and cookies for Santa. I remember driving around looking at Christmas lights and belting out all the Christmas carols. I remember intense game board competitions. I remember visiting friends and having the best catch ups over an eggnog. I remember generally feeling happy. This year I want to stress less and truly take in more of those moments. I want to put down my phone and watch the joy in my daughter’s face as she plays inside a cardboard box. I want to watch my parents enjoy Christmas as grandparents. I want to truly listen when I catch up with a friend that I haven’t seen in awhile.
Maybe this year, you forego Christmas gifts and do an activity, like ice skating or playing a board game. Ask to forego your stockings. You only need so many razorblades, batteries and travel toiletries for the year. If you are going to exchange gifts, exchange meaningful gifts with people you truly care about and find them a present that will actually mean something to them. If you can- buy used, make your gifts, and gift experiences. If you are buying new, buy something of quality and shop local. Gift people a donation to a charity in their name. I LOVE gift giving and would never be able to completely give it up, but there are definitely ways to give better gifts. Vote with your dollar and buy items of quality that are sustainable. You can buy almost any item in a more sustainable form, it just takes another search. Wrap the gifts you do give in cloth, a reusable bag or newspaper. Recycle what wrapping paper is used.
If you want to feel the real spirit of Christmas, donate money or your time to a charity. There are always people less fortunate then you, and nothing will make you happier than helping another person that’s going through a hard time. Sponsor a child. Sponsor a family. Give a goat to a starving family in a third world country. Give a gift to a child in our community. Give a gift to a senior. Go caroling to a seniors centre. Take your children to a seniors centre. Walk a shelter dog. Cook and serve a meal in a shelter. Volunteer at a shelter or organization of your choice….the options are endless.
There are so many ways to #domoregood at Christmas and I hope you do.