Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's That Time of Year

Here in the U.S., we've just entered what we call "the holiday season."  We have Thanksgiving, Christmas (and other religious observances for non-Christians), and New Year's Eve.  I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.

On the one hand, the holidays are a great time to connect with family and friends.  On at least one of these holidays, we gather together with those whom we love and care for.  People become more charitable and give to food banks and homeless shelters, and to other less fortunate individuals and families.

On the other hand, it had become a time of mass consumption and the celebration of greed.  Earlier this week I saw an article discussing strategies for "Black Friday."  For those of you who don't know what this is, it's the Friday after Thanksgiving, when stores open their doors at crazy hours (5 or 6 a.m.) and have tremendous, limited *bargains* available to consumers.  Since these offers are limited, people crowd the retail doors long before opening hours hoping to grab a deal before anyone else does.  People can and do get hurt, sometimes killed, in the rush to get  that coveted item.

I have family members who expect a gift at Christmas, even though they don't *need* anything.  And they have hurt feelings if you do not fulfill that obligation.  Often, these are people who have more than I have and more than they need or can use.  And I see that all of their possessions do not bring them happiness but actually cause them misery.  Misery because possessions require care and maintenance, taking up valuable, finite time in their lives.  

When my husband and I were first married and then when our children were young, we did not have all the things we who live in the western world consider necessities.  Over the years, I would ask for various household items for gifts.  However, we got to the point where our house was complete, so we stopped purchasing Christmas gifts.  Sometimes we will buy a small token gift when it's something we know will bring joy to the other, but as a rule we don't exchange gifts.  I'm perfectly happy with that as acquiring unnecessary stuff would actually cause stress in my life.

So as we enter this holiday season, let's keep in mind what our true needs are and what will really bring us happiness.  Let's focus on peace on earth and goodwill towards all.  That will bring true happiness.


Fiona said...

I have family members like you describe and it's their greediness that gets me the most (they are extremely overweight too). Every year my husband and I have the discussion about withdrawing from family presents, and every year we don't. I would love to give and receive good wishes instead but that could never happen.

My husband and I don't exchange gifts as a rule, apart from the odd special thing like you do. It's actually more pleasurable to do this!

Cherie said...

Fiona, we've opted out of most of the family gift exchanges, thank goodness, but there are a couple of gifts that we are still required to give. At times, we've given gift certificates for restaurants so at least it's not more "stuff."

Deanna said...

A few days ago our 26 year old son had been cleaning his house and told us that he had decided he had everything he needed and suggested we donate to a cause in his name for Christmas. He and our daughter both attended our church's Alternative Gift Market while we were in California and purchased gifts there. I am rather proud of them both, as you might guess. ;)

Cherie said...

Deanna, it's so refreshing to hear things like that. You've obviously raised two very caring children and should be proud! I'd like to hear more about your church's Alternative Gift Market.