If you’ve read my Embracing Simple Living post you read about how Daniel and I spent much of our time last December in stores shopping for gifts for other people and for each other, just like everyone else.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, it was our first Christmas together as a married couple and we wanted it to be memorable and to treat each other.
It was a great Christmas together, and we bought each other really thoughtful gifts. But we both agreed that we felt like we spent all of our weekends and evenings shopping or looking for a specific gift or “Oh yeah, what was that one other thing we were gonna get for so-and-so?”
“What store do we need to go to next?”
“Are we staying within our budget?”
“Do you think this person will even use this?”
“While we’re at it, what’s one more thing you want on your Christmas list?”
“Why is it always so crowded everywhere we go?”
“Why isn’t this fun anymore?” We didn’t say this out loud to each other, but it’s how we felt.
We were relieved when we got back to our apartment and shut the door on all the madness after the end of a long shopping trip.
I’m not an anti-shopper. I actually really enjoy coming up with gift ideas for our families and friends. But this past December felt more like an obligation to check items off our “To Get” list. We spent more money than we wanted to and I can’t even remember most of what we spent all that time looking for.
That’s what advertisers tell us we’re supposed to do at Christmas. They like to create panic, stress and anxiety in us so that we’ll buy more and spend more so that we can feel like we’re keeping up with everyone else.
They disguise going into debt and fighting the crowds as “being generous” or “thoughtful” or “giving”. Instead, we should be generous to ourselves and choose not to go into debt this Christmas. We should be thoughtful and kind to our mental well-being and not drive ourselves crazy by taking on too much this season.
I think we often confuse the material item as the thing that’s important instead of the time, effort, thought and creativity someone puts into getting the gift.
It’s like saying, “I want to buy my husband that new watch he’s been wanting for Christmas so that he knows I love and appreciate him.” Instead of expressing my love and appreciation for my husband simply by telling him or spending time with him, I sum up all of my feelings in a watch — a cheap material item that will eventually stop working, break, get lost or shoved to the back of the drawer only to be replaced by a bigger, better, newer, sleeker version.
I want our Christmas to look different this year.
I want this season to cook like a roast in a crock pot. Slowly, bringing out all the flavors over time.
I don’t want a flash fried December, where I’ve spent all my free time shopping and stressing and before I know it, it’s over.
Yeah, I want a crock pot Christmas. That sounds nice.
I don’t want it to be about “stuff.” I’ve said that a lot in the past — that I want to do something different, something other than what you’re “supposed” to do for Christmas.
We’re following through on that this year. The space beneath our Christmas tree won’t feature boxes or bags. Instead, we’ve blocked out a week on our calendar to go on a trip together, where we’ll get to see new places, spend time together, give each other our undivided attention and make fun memories.
Traveling and experiencing something new is how I like to spend my time with Daniel anyway.
Yes, we still have plans to purchase a few gifts for family, but buying material gifts for each other is something we’re doing without this year.
It may not be this way every Christmas. I know when we have kids one day that the presents will likely make a reappearance under the tree, but this year we are gifting each other our time. So, I guess it’s not a giftless Christmas after all.
Try gifting an experience this year rather than a material item. Spend your time together doing something you’ve always wanted to do. It doesn’t have to be a trip or even an expensive experience gift.
Your time is something you’ll never get back. Those cheap gadgets will always be around.