For years and years, as far back as I can remember, my family has celebrated Christmas the same way. We wake up super early in the morning, travel to whoever's house is hosting that year (we rotate who hosts between 3 different families) or drag ourselves downstairs (if we're lucky enough to be the hosts), drink coffee, open stocking gifts from Santa, eat breakfast, open "the big gifts" which are not from Santa but rather from each of us to each of everyone else, eat dinner (yes, it usually takes HOURS to open all the big gifts) and then some linger and play games while others go home. That's what we do. Year in, year out.
But as I've gotten older the appeal has gotten stale. You mean, I really have to buy presents for Aunt Hildigard and Cousin So and So? Really? But I only see them once a year. What do they like? I have no idea! Maybe I'll just get them a sweater. Everyone likes sweaters, right? Ok fine, scrap the sweater, I'll just go with a gift card.
Why are we doing this? And by "we" I mean all Americans who follow the same routine.
Last year I found this video on You Tube, someone sent it to me via email. I don't remember who sent it, but obviously I NEEDED to see it! At that point, it was too late to call everyone and change everyone's gift buying plans. Especially since so many of my family members start buying Christmas gifts in June.
But it struck a chord in my heart that's been resonating ever since.
So this year I wrote a letter and emailed it to my family members, because things HAD to be different this year. Of all years. When the economy is in the toilet and there are so many people out there who could use some help. I proposed that instead of giving "big gifts" at Christmas that we make handmade items, and then take the money we would have spent and give it to charity.
And instead of taking HOURS to open presents, maybe we could break out some board games. Or decorate cookies, or cut out snowflakes from paper or... you fill in the blank.
Have a Christmas that's meaningful, not consumer-filled. Give more to the charity of your choice, instead of wasting it on things the other person might not even want. Make it clear to your family and friends that you would MUCH rather receive a donation to your favorite charity than a bobble or trinket. Fill the piggy bank of the poor, rather than the coffers of Target or WalMart.
And then take a nice relaxing breath and think about all the shopping that you DON'T have to do this holiday season!