Christmas consumerism

blog-meaningofxmas-squareAlthough, for many people, Christmas is a joyous time, others are glad it is over.  Christmas seems to have become the biggest occasion for ridiculous over-consumption since Thanksgiving.  But I’m not talking about food… I’m talking about “stuff.”  Lots and lots of useless, over-priced stuff that none of us need.  Marketers have simply trained us to THINK we need it.  People trample each other to get the latest trendy toys made in China so U.S. corporations can get rich to the detriment of our own hard-working peoples.

As we began opening presents on Christmas morning, my sweetheart asked his son what was the meaning of Christmas.  We are not, in fact, religious, nor do the children still believe in Santa Claus, so why were we even celebrating this holiday?  And why did we feel obligated to buy things for one another?  Even the children were fretting over what to get their relatives.  It saddened me because children should never feel obligated to give gifts, other than those they make themselves.  (The kids did make several gifts, which I was very pleased to see.  They both proved to be very creative.)

When I was a child, Christmas was much different.  We didn’t get many (if any) toys throughout the year.  I never had piles and piles of toys like kids have now.  On my birthday, I got one or two things.  That was it.  And on Christmas, we each got 5-6 things, and that’s all.  It was a big deal.  Opening presents was just a small part of a long day spent with family.

Now, I feel kids (in the U.S. at least) have this expectation that they are going to gets loads and loads of expensive things.  If they don’t, they somehow feel cheated or that their parents don’t love them.  There are kids in the world who get few or no presents at Christmastime who don’t feel stiffed at all.

There is so much pressure on parents (self-induced, of course) to find the latest and greatest things, and wrap 20-30 of them for each child.  I can only begin to imagine what parents are spending on their kids each Christmas… $500?  $750?  $1000?  Absolutely absurd!  Half of the things the kids get will end up stuffed in a drawer or closet and never played with again.

The holidays are a very stressful time for so many people, but Christmas consumerism does not need to be part of that stress.  You could encourage your child to make all of his/her Christmas presents for others.  You could pick up the supplies, and they could put in the elbow grease.  Some suggestions for next year (it’s never too early to start!) are glass ornaments (which can be painted and filled), CD’s of their favorite songs (or of them playing their musical instrument or singing), cross stitch, knitting, wood crafts, pottery, jewelry, cards and paper crafts… I could go on and on.

I know I love to get hand-made gifts, and I’m sure most parents and grandparents do as well.  It’s great for your child’s development to encourage him/her to be creative.  And guess what, it’s good for you, too!  You should try making some of your own gifts as well!  You can bake them, make them or perform them!

I am personally pledging to make at least 75% of the gifts I give for Christmas 2011.  Will you make a pledge, too?

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