A Minimalist Christmas

What is it about Christmas that turns people into compulsive consumers? Actually, the season of materialism kicks off on Black Friday, right? So, it's an entire chuck of the year dedicated to spending money and buying crap that's mostly unnecessary.

The thing I don't understand is ... if you really need something, why wait until Christmas for it? Why create a list of needs for a holiday that is supposed to celebrate the birth of (some people's) savior ... or Hanukkah or ... (insert religions here).

As a non-reglious and non-materialistic chick, I can't say I understand the compulsion surrounding the holiday season. I do love the holiday spirit and all of the decorations. Seriously, there should be decorations year round. Spices up life a bit!!

And, although I'm agnostic, I'm still down for wishing people a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Buon Natale, etc.  I am not preferential to any certain holiday wishes because I consider it a wish of happiness & cheer so ... no matter what religion is inserted into the expression, I'm receptive to it all because I know it's passed along with kind intention (and intentions matter).

But the shopping though. The compulsive purchasing and money wasting and materialism-focused garbage ... The people who buy a TON of crap for their kids or drain their accounts or max out credit cards to ... what? Prove their love? Naaa. That's bonkers. Buying unnecessary crap isn't a token of love and appreciation. It's just stuff. And stuff doesn't make people happy. Stuff doesn't buy happiness.

As a mom and non-religious person, I'm torn about the holiday. Santa is weird. We tell kids to sit on some strange man's lap ... we tell kids that there's an old man in red clothes who breaks into our homes and eats our cookies and drinks our milk and gives us presents. Why? Why is that not totally weird? I don't want my kids comfortable with some old stranger holding them and telling them to whisper secrets in his ear about what they hope to get for Christmas. Ewwww. Gross! No. 

Last year I tried the Santa thing with them. My littlest one screamed and cried. My older one was brave. This year ... I asked my older one if she wanted a photo with Santa and she said no. Cool. I'm fine with that. And, why give credit to the gifts and say they are from Santa anyway?

I don't know how to process explaining Santa and gifts and materialism to my kids. I bought ONE gift for my girls. A few of my friends (who are super duper awesome and I appreciate their love) also bought my girls some gifts. I may set them aside for my older daughter's birthday though, which isn't long after the holidays.

I just don't feel that kids need so many gifts in one shot. It loses it's value if we bombard them with gifts and teach them to expect a lot for Christmas.

So, the minimalist hippie heart of mine doesn't subscribe to consumerism like stores would prefer. I'm not their ideal target audience, to say the least. I appreciate everyone who sent gifts to my girls but I may set them aside until next month so we can have some nice things to go along with her birthday. The gifts my friends bought are incredibly thoughtful and good purchases that will certainly be put to use (seriously, they were creative geniuses for the things they got).

But for the parents and people who flood kids gifts ... I don't think winning over a kid by buying them shit and telling them about a fat man in a red suit who breaks into homes and wants kids to whisper in his ear while sitting on his lap is a very beneficial thing. I don't want my kids that comfortable with strangers ... I also don't want my kids to expect to get gifts for any reason. As for the adults who put a price tag on gifts and expect lavishness, I am utterly lost in understanding that approach to gifts. The cost of something is irrelevant to its intrinsic value. A handwritten note or something made that costs nothing more than time has so much more value than some crap that society put a price tag on and decided was the "ideal" gift for the holiday season. Gifts are more than dollars. Gifts should be given and received with love and appreciation.

Anyway, not to rain on your Christmasy parade but I hope you reflect about the holiday. If you celebrate it for religious purposes, I hope that the religious aspect takes a priority over the nonsense of money-spending and love-proving gifts. There is so much more to life than racking up credit cards with gifts that aren't necessary and are stockpiled for the holidays. It doesn't prove love or value.

Attention proves love.
Time together proves love.
Writing letters or calling or visiting proves love.
Being together proves love.

Give love with your presence and attention and not your dollars.

Just an idea ... perhaps a little radical and anti-consumerist but a good one to incorporate into your lives because time costs nothing and isn't an environmental waste like so many of the gifts we give each other really are.

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