For most people, even religious ones, this season is all about consumerism. How much can they buy, and having to keep up with the Joneses...and even all about having to keep up with or even outdo other family members on the gift giving. I was at my hairdresser yesterday (I go to her home where she has her own little salon), and she was telling me that she has a rather large family and they all buy for each other. There are certain members of the family who buy extremely expensive gifts and certain other members of the family have to struggle and get into huge debt to keep up. I don't get this at all. Trying to be equal just becomes the same thing as people swapping equal amounts of money. The gift-giving becomes meaningless when people are obsessed with equal money spent.
I have watched children in today's world open piles and piles of gifts without even paying attention to what is inside. They sit on the floor with flushed cheeks, frantically ripping open packages, tossing the paper in one direction, and box and present in another and hurridly move on to the next one without even realizing what was in the box that was previously opened! When you have several children and adults in one room going through this process, it's a package opening frenzy! And what happens afterwards? The kids might go back and pick the cheapest thing from the heap to like best, and ignore all the rest. Or, like I have seen quite often...they play with the boxes the stuff came in!
I remember when I was a child, I would be waiting for that one special item I had asked Santa to leave me. I didn't always get what I wanted, but I was sure that it was in his better judgement to give me something else. I now know that my parents couldn't always afford what I had sat on Santa's lap and asked him for. Most kids today get pretty much make out like bandits.
I have cut my list way, way down. I only buy for my parents, nephew and niece, my three grown kids who only get one thing now, my best friend, and that's it. My husband and I might just get something we both want...sometimes he gets me a bottle of perfume or something. It's no big deal if we don't give each other anything, which we don't some years because there really is nothing we need at the time or what we want we can't afford and will get it later.
I am thinking what would be neat to do one year is to have a holiday family gathering with zero presents at all. Just good food, getting together and enjoying one another. And if we all weren't so tired from all the crazed shopping and waiting in lines, and wrapping etc. maybe we would all have a much more enjoyable and relaxed time together.