There was an article in my local paper on Saturday that has really stuck in my mind and upset me as we start another Holiday season.
In a town on Long Island...at a really big nationwide store... a man was trampled to death by early shoppers. He was a part time worker doing maintenance...all he was doing Friday was opening the doors to the crowd outside and they were so focused on getting the best holdiay shopping that they killed a man. WHY??? what reason do people have for being that heartless and uncaring? Isn't this the season of good will towards men? Do you really need that hot gift of the year so bad that someone DIES? Or that big screen plasma TV? will watching the news coverage of what happened make you feel ashamed if you were one of the ones that is responsible?
I refuse to add to that insanity. Now if you've followed my blog for any length of time you know how much I love a good bargain. However I don't participate in shopping like that. There is no bargain so great that I have to hurt another person physically. I know there will come a time when JP is determined to get such and such special gift.. and that I may be tempted to sit outside a store in the cold to get it at a particular bargain. I think I'd rather spend up to $100.00 more waiting or getting it online then risk what some believe is normal, human behavior during this time of year.
Yes, I'm also one of those people that has become sick of what Christmas shopping has become. Do we remember when it was to show someone how special they are to us? Or do we just remember that its to show off what we can get. Please understand that I KNOW not everyone is like this, and thats most of us. Even those that shop the Black Friday sales. However it's become apparent that there are people that are just out of control. People get injured every year at these special early shopping trips. Why? If you are not early enough on the lines in the cold then try again next year. Your child may be disappointed and sad.. and that's hard to watch. There were times when I was that child. I think I turned out pretty ok in the end and to tell you the truth I can't really recall what that special item was.. except for the time I wanted an electric alarm clock with the digital numbers...and got one that flipped little cards for the numbers. Trust me I have not ended up in therapy for this and I don't view my parents as horrible parents.
I stress out at this time of year with my IL's. Joe never helps me plan gifts. I know my SIL's always say they want gift cards. I prefer to do something special. yet I always have to wonder if its viewed as 'good enough'. I should just enjoy giving a gift to say thanks for being in our lives.. but instead always fear we are judged negatively. We tend to feel like tha black sheep of the family anyway for unknown reasons and the holiday's add to it. His family is large so I have to stretch the budget. I take time to handmake a lot. How sad that I feel its never appreciated for the true gift it is, with all the thought and effort put into it.
My office started something last year that I think is great fun. for our Christmas grab bag we have to make something for the person we are giving to. Total cost of supplies can be no more then $5.00. we had some great gifts last year. I think the winner was "Clammy Claus" made out of shells, lol. This put the focus on what was important... making something fun and a memory for those important to us... not on what to buy. I was also reminded this year of a simple gift I made a few years ago. I bought simple fabric picture frames and went online and found inspirational quotes for everyone. Made them look nice and that was that. I figured everyone could use a frame and the quote was researched with a lot of thought, but I figured they'd use it as a picture frame in the end. One coworker brought her frame in and put it on her desk. It has a meaningful quote about hard times and getting thru that. She had to remind me that 'I" gave those gifts and that she never changed the picture frame because the quote was that inspiring to her. That made me feel great and has stuck with me. Especially since several others also told me the same thing. It was a small price.. a lot of time finding the right quote.. and I made a lasting impression.
Maybe it's time to stop focusing on how much money we spend.. and go back to spending time. I have very generous baskets planned with food items that I am making and a few small other items tucked in. I'm tired of feeling like I'm competeing and not being generous enough when its my time and heart involved. And isn't time, love and appreciation what the Holiday's SHOULD be about? I think it's time to go back to old fashioned Christmas values and back to remember why we celebrate this time of year.
Christmas is a time for reaffirming and strengthening ties with family and loved ones; for many it has deep spiritual significance. We may need to dust off some old traditions, or create new traditions to replace excessive gift-giving. Some might like dinner by candlelight during the holidays. Others may enjoy reading out loud from spiritual or inspirational works. We can listen to Christmas music and cook, bake, or work together making original holiday cards and decorations. We can develop and rehearse creative family plays or presentations, to be "performed" for friends or relatives. We can bundle up for the cold and take special walks in nature together. Almost anything we do, especially if we do it together with loved ones, can become a deeply meaningful tradition.
Give a "voucher" for a week's worth of dishwashing (I'd be ecstatic for that, I hate washing dishes), a wax job on the car, an evening of babysitting, breakfast in bed, an hour's massage, help with preparing tax returns, or any other unique service you can provide. You can give someone a gift membership in an organization they like. Instead of buying anything, you can write a letter to a person listing 10 things you love, admire, appreciate, or respect about them. Your gift of time and thoughtfulness may be remembered long beyond a hundred knick-knacks collecting dust in their closet.
Some of these gifts may take time, but time can be freed from cancelled shopping chores and from the extra hours we'd have to work to pay for the shopping. We can remind ourselves that often what people most need is not more "stuff," but rather more forgiveness, love, communication, and fun.
These are just a few ideas; many more could be added. The important thing is to clarify for ourselves what are the most important parts of Christmas, and to spend our time and energy in harmony with those values.