I didn’t know this was a thing until this year. To be fair to myself, it seems it only started in 2019, so I’m not terribly late to the party. But anyway. I’m not really here to write about the movement itself, but it seemed a fitting
click-bait topical title.
Christmas has been a struggle for me since my wife passed away in 2018. It was her favorite time of the year, and she was always the one to organize and manage our gift-giving efforts. That first year, a mere 2 months after her death, I frankly don’t even remember what I did. In 2019, I was able to pull myself together and give some pretty thoughtful/needed gifts, to some, while to others I reverted to (what may become a habit) “wait til after it’s over, ask them what they didn’t get that they still really want, and see if I can make that happen.” Which, honestly, I kinda like. It makes things more fun but also WAY less stressful.
Maybe I’ll still do that, in some limited ways. But the big change this year is that I’m buying a brand-new house. So every spare penny of my budget is going toward that, because, as much as there is to NOT worry about with a new build (maintenance/upkeep, renovations, etc.), there is an equal amount of stuff TO worry about — namely, for one, the backyard, which will be a big ol’ rectangle of plain-ass dirt. (Also appliances — I will need a fridge and washing machine; dryer is on-hand thanks to my wonderful parents.)
Anyway. None of that is an excuse to “not participate” in the Christmas tradition of gift-giving. Instead, what I’m proposing is, hopefully, meaningful and acceptable in light of the trials and tribulations that this Year of Our Lord 2020 has wrought on the world, and in the spirit of #GivingTuesday.
Because as bad as 2020 has been for many, many folks — and it’s a shit-show, believe me, for some — for me, it’s been alright. I’m fortunate enough to have kept my job, to be making good money, and to not have lost anybody I love to COVID. I thank God for that every day that I hear the news. And I pray for those that have, or that are in danger of it. But the point is, I’m okay. I’ve got my health, and I’ve got a roof over my head (soon to be a different and new roof!). I’ve got my loving family, my supportive friends, my wonderful church, my brilliant colleagues, my fantastic bosses, and my amazing workplace.
Yes, I lost the love of my life. Yes, I was devastated. I grieved. I wept. I dealt with it.. in unhealthy ways, at first, but I’m getting better. I’m coping in healthier ways. I’m learning to see the good in things; the “silver linings”, as she would say.
Anyway, the point here is really, if you’re doing okay, GIVE BACK. Find a charitable cause, and back it; find a need, and fulfill it. Don’t circle the same old tired Starbucks cards and Visa Prepaids and Amazon Gift Cards and “that thing that was on sale that looked like a good manly gift for a manly man”. (Seriously, nobody really likes it.)
But don’t pull a George and write a card saying “I gave to this charity in your name, as your Christmas gift.” At least not without discussing it. Because gift exchanging IS a part of the American holiday tradition, and if you suddenly flip the script on everybody without warning, while they all got YOU some pretty nice stuff, you’ll look like the asshole. So communicate, first and foremost. Then decide if you’re really gonna do things drastically different, or perhaps just start small on a personal, self-reflective level.
Final thoughts. I’m not saying I’m converting to Festivus. But I AM saying that I’m scaling back this year. And those who read this, who ARE usually on my list (and I on yours), should be aware of that. For all of the above reasons. I hope I made that clear without sounding selfish — it’s not “just” that I’m buying a house, or “just” that I think you should give to charity instead of buying gifts. I want the whole picture considered — the whole ball of wax, as my old pastor used to say.
So that’s that. I hope you have a safe and warm holiday season, and a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it. Cheers!