Monday 15 December 2008

Christmas giving

I just stumbled across this site:

As it happens, I've been reducing my Christmas gift giving over the past few years anyway, agreeing with more and more people just to forgo the exercise. I love giving gifts (really) but have been finding searching them out, selecting them, and buying them increasingly stressful. At the same time, when people ask me what I want or need, I have a hard time coming up with anything much and the same seems to hold true for everyone else. In order to perpetuate mass consumerism, this situation seems to have brought about the proliferation of gift cards. I don't have a problem with gift cards per se (they've been around in the form of gift certificates for ever), but the fact that I can now buy gift cards for a hundred different stores at the Safeway checkout counter makes me feel like things have gone too far.

Sure, I remember many childhood years, waking up with eager anticipation of gifts to come–at least one of them usually big and/or expensive. There were even a couple of years there, not too long ago, when Christmas seemed to have lost its luster and I just couldn't eke much enjoyment out of it.

But things have mellowed again and Christmas has been reborn. Now it's about cooking "Christmas" dinner (weeks in advance to fit everyone's schedule) with friends. It's about brisk walks down brightly-decorated streets and the smell of a wood fire (where still permitted by law). It's about spending time with family. And sure, sometimes it's still about giving gifts but the joy is back (on both sides) because it's now about an occasional gift that you didn't even expect. One of the most meaningful gifts I received was an album of family recipes and baby photos. In fact, I think that's when I realized that my perception of Christmas had changed.

I don't know if it's just the result of aging or if society is actually start to push back against consumerism-for-its-own-sake but it feels good. And if you still feel you need to get me a gift, try something consumable: wine, herbs, spices, oils. It's so nice to get a bottle of wine I've never tried and would never have bought. And if I don't like it, at least it's gone instead of staring at me for the rest of time from a dusty shelf or the back of a closet.

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