12/8/08

The Meaning of Christmas

I've been committed to Christmas for two weeks already. We officially "Chrisma-fied" our house before the month of November came to a close. I've shopped, collected, thought, and made plenty of lists (and checked them twice). I've lamented to John how I've accumulated STUFF for the kids, but nothing that really means anything. And then my consumerism was solidified today at the library.
I found myself in a conversation with three other moms about their financial plight and how they approached the holidays this year.
"I am making all my gifts this year, "said one particularly crafty mom. She majored in construction and has a PhD in everything. She continued, "I just flip through the toy catalogs and find something I think my kids would like and figure out how to make it myself."
I took a moment to picture her hand mixing a vat of eco-friendly recycled poly-euro plastic and shaping an inflatable Rody horse. "...I'm making Mark a set of homemade building blocks and knitting Eva a sweater!"
The other moms nodded their heads and one chimed in with her Holiday Mantra, "Free Christmas." I was pretty sure she was going to share her newest shoplifting techniques right there in the Children's Book Aisle of the public Library.
"I figured out a way to accumulate gift cards for switching around our prescriptions from pharmacy to pharmacy. Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, and Target all give you a $25 gift card if you change your prescription to their pharmacies. So I'm using the gift cards to buy presents!"
Wow! I'm just accumulating credit card debt, I thought.
"We couldn't afford to do Christmas this year so we've introduced "Thrifty Santa" to our family," chimed the other mother. She went on to explain how her entire family agreed to give second hand presents found at garage sales or thrift stores.
I wanted to contribute something thoughtful and similar but all I could come up with was Amazon.com and the Tom's Toys discount program(which, by the way is 25% off any purchase of $38 or more) .
So I've given this Christmas some more thought. I've pulled down all the shopping bags and re-evaluated my gift stash. I've chosen two presents I bought for my own kids and dropped them into a Toys For Tots box. I've carefully picked a few items that my girls want and need. And then I turned my attention to my fantastic husband. I have a long list of "usual gifts" including a new surf calendar, surf DVD, and some clothes. But I wanted to do something a little more thoughtful, something that required more effort. So I set my sights on a 12 days of Christmas plan that didn't require much money, just a lot of love and thoughtfulness. So far, I have enough for 9 days and I think I may just stick to that unexpected number. Here's a few items on my list if you're interested in doing the same:
#5 -$5 Starbucks card and new travel coffee mug
#7-7 words to describe you (a colorful collage of magazine snippings)
#2-Two mixed CDs to make his morning commute a little more interesting

I may not be crafting my daughter a set of porcelain tea cups or hand-tooling a new pair of leather moccasins, but I did venture to a few garage sales and found myself reevaluating the consumer in me this holiday season. I'm hoping to keep the spirit of giving in perspective, and my gifts meaningful. What are you doing to make this Christmas special?

1 comment:

JO said...

Great post! I love the 12 days of Christmas idea...I would steal it, but I don't think I can get organized in time! Unfortunately we are purchasing gifts for SO, but only a couple of things that she will be really excited about (and I don't know how to sew a wetsuit!). It is VO that I have NO idea what we are going to do for him. I am making gifts for the rest of my family though, so it is a partially hamndmade Chirstmas!