December 13, 2010

Whatever Hapened to the Simpler Things in Life?

I was finally able to grab some Christmas spirit this weekend (for a week there, I thought I was dead inside) after watching a few of my favorite Christmas movies and decorating my tree-in-a-box. If you haven't seen Elf's a must for the season. The movie of the weekend was "A Christmas Story". I watch this faithfully, every year, to kick off the season (this year I was a bit late-due to my humbug-ness) and strongly recommend it to anyone who has yet to see it. It details a boy's life during the 40's or 50's and is a very funny look at childhood, parenthood, family, and the Holidays.

At any rate, this year, it left me craving the "old days" of Christmas. I mean, I'm not THAT old..(I didn't walk 5 miles to school with no shoes or eat porridge cooked on the hearth every morning or anything) but I do remember simpler times when Christmas shopping didn't mean taking out a second mortgage on the house. My niece wants an iPod Touch for Christmas (I don't even have an iPod Touch....). She's only 10. She wants one because every other kid in her class either has one or is getting one. If you have a couple of kids, and have an "average" family income, where do you find the $350 for such a gift? How many charge cards will the average North American pull out to pay for Christmas this year? Whatever happened to making Christmas presents?

I have to admit, I get caught up in the excitement of making someone's Christmas. I have bought the occasional iPod (Nano). I do, however, pay in cash and never use plastic. This is probably due to my previous experiences of that New Year's financial hangover that arrives - on time - in the mail in the form of a Visa / MC bill. But what if we wrote poems to each other instead? What if we drew a picture or painted a box for those we love? Would they be less valued? (and no...I'm not high on crack)

I know that if my man-friend sat down and wrote me a heart felt letter sharing his deepest feelings about me and us and our future, I would treasure it more than a piece of jewelry (and use it in case of a neccessary reminder in the future).  Gifts that come from the heart are the best kind. Holiday giving isn't about (or shouldn't be about) how much you spend, but how much thought you have put into it. I know we know this, but we (as a collective) certainly don't practice it. Now, it isn't just Christmas lights on your house, but those cheezy blow up dolls and wirey raindeer on the lawn. Every since Martha Stewart came on the scene, we now have to think about our Holiday decor in a whole, new, crazy, out of control, you-can-see-my-house-from-space kinda way. Why?

 The worst result of this, of course, is the financial stress it causes in the new year. The bills come in and the purse strings are pulled tight, and the effects on one's health can result in stress related illness, depression, higher rates of addiction (i.e. alcohol, drug, and even more shopping). All in the name of "giving" at Christmas. I think if we really stopped to think about it, we would be giving more if we gave less. Perhaps less financial stress would make us happier and more present with our family? Perhaps less "stuff" would help us to focus on the important things in life? I don't this even possible anymore?

I don't want to come across as "idealistic" or "Pollyanna-ish" but it would be nice......right?  Maybe I did have a little too much of the gingerbread this weekend.


PS. I'm making my first batch of home-made caramels tonite....and beginning my photo mural (a Christmas present)....I'll keep ya posted.

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