Certain people who know me well enough, know I struggle with consumerism. I don’t own a lot of stuff. In fact, I just moved from Washington to Texas only with what would fit in and on my small SUV. I’d rather have a backpack and a plane ticket than the newest cell phone. And I have days where walking into a grocery or retail store makes me inexplicably uncomfortable because of the overwhelming amount of advertising shoved in my face upon entering. Now, I will not say I don’t partake. I’m not an extremist by any means. When I do buy, I buy quality, and I try to stick to a strict, “if it has a commercial, don’t buy it,” policy. I want the few things I have to last.
That said, it’s that time of year when consumerism is at its peak. This is when the feelings of uneasiness tear at me exponentially. See, I don’t have a problem with Christmas, or Christianity, or giving to others. I have as problem with what used to be such a sacred religious holiday, being exploited by retailers on such a gut wrenching level. I have a problem with the overarching implication that giving stuff to people on holidays makes us better humans.
Equally, it makes me sad that so many people fall for the deceptive marketing tactics that scream, “BUY THIS OR JESUS WON’T LOVE YOU!!” Or that we are somehow equivalent to and deserving of the alms given to a God born into human form. I know, this sounds a little extreme, but what other purpose does gift giving to the degree we do have in this setting? Please note, I am not trying to shit on Christmas, or make those who celebrate avidly with gifts feel belittled.
All I’m saying is, it seems like the United States has, as a collective, has abandoned the true meaning of Christmas for something reminiscent of it, but is excessively self serving and unnecessarily debt inducing. Trust me, I know the Christmas Story well, and not just the Red Rider BB Gun version, but the Baby Jesus version. I grew up Christian, in church every Wednesday and Sunday until I was twenty-six years old. And while I no longer subscribe to Christianity, I do still believe that religions deserve the respect of keeping their holidays sacred.
My whole point in this is, if you celebrate Christmas, take a minute and recognize WHY you celebrate Christmas. Be honest with yourself, it’s okay.
Now, I want to challenge you to consider some alternative gift giving this year. Think of what it would look like to give your friends and loved ones something intangible and meaningful instead of some random clothes or toys.
Last, tell me in the comments below, if you could receive ANY intangible gift from someone, what would you want it to be and why?
Merry Christmas folks.