Christmas has always been, by far, my favourite time of the year. The Christmas “season”, yes, aptly named because it’s far more than just a single day, is the only time of year we all share a joint purpose. It’s like some unwritten contract that we have all have signed, promising to be more charitable, appreciative, tolerant and most of all, nicer to each other.
It’s funny, but when I think about Christmas, my thoughts are never about gifts, either given or received. My memories always centre on things like family gatherings, seeing old friends, the smell of Christmas baking permeating the house. The emotions a special ornament can evoke as you carefully remove it from storage and hold it gently in your hand for the first time since last season. These are the things that make Christmas special for me.
Like many people, I grew up in a family of modest means. The expectations of the modern world are far different from the cold realities of life in 1960’s New Brunswick. Often, food, shelter and clothing were all the family budget would allow, but somehow Christmas was different. The house always seemed a little warmer and there always seemed to be plenty to eat at this joyous time of the year.
Today, when my siblings and I get together to reminisce, our thoughts and discussions are always centered on what we had, never on what we didn’t have. Gifts we did receive, though modest, were thoughtful.
These memories got me thinking about an article I read several years ago about the concept of getting back to more sensible, yet meaningful gift giving. This idea is perfect for those of us who struggle with the excesses and over commercialization of what the Christmas season has become.
Basically, it encourages us to limit gift giving to four categories. Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.
I believe this concept was originally conceived to streamline spending and force children to sort out priorities in the myriad of options with which they are faced. This strategy could easily be applied to adult children, grandchildren, spouses or any other close relation or friend that you buy multiple gifts for.
Let’s face it, most of us could use less excess in our lives.
Remember; want, need, wear, read, this Christmas. Let’s get back to family, friends, charity, kindness and goodwill toward others. These expressions, not an abundance of presents, are the true gifts of the Christmas season.