The Holidays and Gift Giving
We are at that time of year when all the stores advertise deals. Pre-black Friday sales, early holiday deals, hey come look at these great prices. I have seen everyone worrying that production issues and the back lash from the pandemic will ruin Christmas. Not to sound like Charlie Brown here, but the holidays are not about gifts. It is about that beautiful warm feeling, the smell of pine and cinnamon. The different colored lights and decorations. Finally, for me, classic Christmas music.
Personally, I like giving gifts rather than receiving them. Especially the ones where it took time to find, and it is special to that person. The look on the person’s face when they open them is enough for me. That is what I look forward to. My parents always made sure my brother and I had all we could ever want. To the point where I had unreal expectations of how Christmas morning should look. My mom would go overboard, and my dad made sure it was a room full of presents.
When I had my son, I tried to do the same. I was disappointed every year as it never came close to what I had growing up. But I was on a very tight budget. My dad had passed, my brother was still in school, my mom finally had a full-time job, and we were struggling. Living the life we had before was a distant memory. Our morale was low and each year we reached for the past and failed.
One Christmas, when my son was three, we were in a bad place. To the point where we put a tree up but nothing else. No gifts, no lights, and no fuzzy warm feelings. It was one of the most depressing mornings. I was unable to give my son anything. As much as it hurts me, I learned a lot that year. I wasn’t going to be able to recreate what our parents did for us. Rather I need to start with what I can do. Make the tradition different for the family I had created. The family dynamic had changed, and the rest needed to follow suit.
My son is a humble kid. He is appreciative of all that he gets. Don’t get me wrong he has his moments when he asks for things that are way beyond my means. He tells me he just adds it to his list for reference and something to aim for later. Like when I add things to my wish list that I will never be able to get. He understands where we are and what we can do.
Setting aside my high praise of my son (what can I say, I love the kid). I know that social media is not that place to be comparing lives. It is full of the best of the best. Because we have the ability to edit our lives and show only the good and the great. I have to admit that when I see people post pictures of the piles of presents they had gotten for their kids and family, I feel like our holiday is inadequate. I begin to question if it is enough. Where did I go wrong? How can I make this better? Before I spiral into something that is beyond my control, I remember the year we had nothing. This year we have presents under the tree, food on the table and a roof over our head. That is all we need.
So even though the holidays are coming, gifts should not be front and center. It is about the warm fuzzy feelings we all want when this time of year comes along. It is about family, even if it is small. It is about all the people that have stuck by you through it all. These are the things that we should think about and be happy for. Enjoy the season. Put on a few movies and drink some hot cocoa. Get cozy and relax. Don’t compare to others and be happy for what you do have.