Have you noticed that, as society becomes less and less religious, Christmas is getting bigger and bigger and ever more expensive?
Every year, the papers encourage us to buy more, do more, spend more, eat more – as though somehow all of this will make Christmas more meaningful.
It won’t. I’m not being the Grinch here, but buying stuff, eating more, and getting further in debt never gave anyone more meaning except the credit card salespeople, the banks, and probably those six Walmart heirs.
I love Christmas. Ever since I was a kid, I loved the tree, I loved the gifts, and I loved the special meal we share. It’s something I looked forward to all year.
But it was never how much my family spent. Looking back, I can’t even remember most of the gifts I received as a child. They didn’t matter in the long term.
The memories I have that I treasure most from Christmas are:
Going to Carols by Candlelight on the park and having my very own candle to hold.
Getting my first ever bike on my eighth birthday. Okay, yes, this was one present that DID matter!
Putting small gifts under the community charity tree in the city as a child. I really felt like my small sacrifices were making a difference. It made me feel special, and it was meaningful.
Packing Christmas hampers for the needy with a friend at a local charity.
Helping my father untangle the Christmas lights for the tree, and checking each of the globes to figure out which one was causing them to not work.
Laying the table for Christmas dinner. This was my special job and I looked forward to it.
My aunt knitting us all matching “Griswold” jumpers, and us taking photos of the whole family in silly poses!
My son’s first ever sentence. He was a late talker, but his first words at age three were “Look! Jackson! There’s presents!”
Having my first sip of Christmas champagne, as a teenager. I felt so grownup!
Singing carols with my choir, all good friends still after years and years!
Trying to remember the “Twelve Days Of Christmas” for my kids, and laughing until we cried.
The “Angry Birds Peace Song” – which my seven year old daughter loves.
None of my memories are about wealth, or spending, or the cost of things. I didn’t care, as a child, how much my parents spent or whether our tree looked like a catalogue photo. The things that mattered, and that remain with me, are memories that cost little. They were memories of giving, and love, and family, and joy.
So now, as an adult, I’m not going to attempt to make our family Christmas “perfect”, according to some troll logic from a sales leaflet encouraging me to spend more. I’m not going to try to live to someone else’s standards. I’m going to do what I think is best for us. We’re spending within our means and teaching our children it is better to give than to receive.
As time goes on, and people become less religious, I hope that Christmas stays around. But I’d like it better if we made this holiday more about giving to those in need, and less about spending for those who have enough already.
Happy Christmas from New Zealand 🙂