Love and Presents

giftEarlier in the month I wrote about how I see "Secret Santa" as a gateway drug to no-buy, no-receive. As I lobby to push my agenda forward I'm encountering quite a bit of resistance from members of my immediate family.

It seems some equate love with presents. The giving of stuff has become a symbol of caring, an act of love. This is precisely why I seek to exit the crushing consumerism of the Christmas season. In a nutshell, it's this perceived correlation between love and presents that I wish to obliterate.

First I'd like to address a few misconceptions. No, I'm not trying to take the fun out of the holiday. I'm pro-fun. I want lots of time with loved ones, lots of good food and drink and conversation. I want to see the kids open their gifts and lose their minds when they see they got what they asked for. I want Christmas to be less stressful and more fun.

And no, I'm not trying to be cheap. This isn't about saving money. The problem with the holiday season is that we're obligated to spend X and it's this obligation I'm trying to eliminate. We give our loved ones stuff they don't really need or want because that's the rule. That's a rule we need to break.

I sincerely believe that we've lost our way as a society when it comes to the festive spirit. I'd just like to see us get back on track. I'd like us to stop equating love with stuff. They completely lack a logical or causal relation.

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Buffalo Boy Mike

Mike, you are so on the spot here. I wrote about the death of that Walmart employee. I Think a big start to what you are proposing would be to get rid of the 4 AM madness the day after Thanksgiving. Stop stressing the need for stuff. This will never happen because stores need their Christmas money to get them into the black. But they could get around this by offering those sales longer both before and after Thanksgiving, the longer something is, usually the less hype it gets and theless lines you have to encounter.
It takes the importance off of having to wake up and go out shopping at an insane hour and puts it back on Family time. Back to (well at least in theUS Thanksgiving time.
That would be a start.

November 29, 2008 @ 5:37 PM

twins from bolton

Our family quit exchanging gifts 10 years ago with other family members except for the kids.
Exchanging with the kids was eliminated 3 years ago.
This was a diificult decision years ago but we ALL agreed.

November 29, 2008 @ 5:40 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

I don't think quitting exchanging is the answer. I just think that people spending huge sums of money to meet expectations on the holiday is ridiculous. The first few years I was with my wife I was astounded as to the lengths to which her family would go. Yes my family had big christmas's too, but we never over spent. IF you didn't have it, you didn't spend it.
My wife would need help in January and February from the debt she incurred buying for Christmas. It gets to the point where you have to make a decision that enough is enouhg and you can't over spend to meet the expectations of others.

November 29, 2008 @ 6:51 PM

Mike from Lowville

Kids,..100%, no..receive for the rest of us! Cheers!

November 29, 2008 @ 10:14 PM

Toronto Mike

Dan made a good point via email.

And if I can add to that, the other half of it is that they're obligated to do the same in return. A pointless and stressful waste of planetary resources having nothing to do with love.
November 30, 2008 @ 10:43 AM


Actually Mike, maybe you could give me your opinion on something. I need to buy Christmas gifts for my Goddaughter and her sister. One is turning 8 in December and the other is 4 and a half. They have so much, and in the past I've noticed they don't always wear what I've given them or play with toys I've bought for them. This is confusing because I usually feel them out first to get an idea of what they want. Maybe it's toy overload. Anyway, to make a long story longer, I was at the World Vision website and they offer a gift catalogue where you can buy animals, clothes, medicine, etc. for kids and their families. I thought I could donate to this charity in the name of the girls. For instance, the gift of a goat would give a family 250 litres of milk a year. You have kids about the ages of these 2 girls, do you think they would understand the significance of a charitable gift or be upset because they didn't receive anything tangible?

December 1, 2008 @ 11:17 AM

Toronto Mike

I'll bet the 4 year old will feel gypped but the 8 year old, with a nice chat about what you did and the difference it would make, would get it.

I love the idea, and I know just how to make it more tangible for kids. See if you can get pictures and names of the family members your donation aids. A picture of a less fortunate 8 year old with a name would bring it home, I'll bet.

Kids today definitely have toy overload. My daughter isn't just asking for a High School Musical doll, she wants the whole set. Even if she didn't get the World Vision gift at 4.5 years old, I'll bet it would click at some point and it will certainly carry far more weight than that Troy doll.

December 1, 2008 @ 11:39 AM

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