Everyone is asking me what I want for Christmas this year. After we decide that what I really want is unobtainable (world peace, an end to poverty, a healthy body . . .) I’m having a hard time giving any real kind of answer to that question. I have everything I NEED and most of what I want.
Thinking back on gifts that I have really enjoyed throughout my life, they all have something in common; I didn’t know the gift was something I wanted, and the giver had put both time and thought into it. I still have some of those gifts because they are so special to me. The Santa head that my dad carved from a 1-inch dowel rod hangs in a place of honor on my tree each year. When I was about 4 my grandmother made me a bathrobe and gave me a stuffed animal with a matching robe. That was awesome. I still have the shell necklace my best friend made for me in high school. Another friend sometimes gives me animals through Heifer International. I’m about to redeem a coupon for two hours of cleaning from a special friend. Her children have made us some neat gifts over the years.
The frenzy of shopping that begins in November used to really stress me out. I worried about giving the perfect gift to each family member and to friends. I like to give gifts that are meaningful to the people receiving them. We always used credit cards to buy our Christmas purchases and spent several months paying them off only to repeat the cycle the next year. I’m stopping the frenzy. I give to a charity of my choice in honor of my family and friends and send them cards to let them know I have done so. If I am going to see them during the holidays I might give them cookies or something else I have made. I’m learning (slowly) that presence is more important than presents and that gift giving does not have to involve a lot of money. If you are interested in simplifying your Christmas preparations, Becoming Minimalist has gathered a list of helpful websites. I may be too late to stop the madness this year, but it is something to think about for next year. You may also want to look at simplechristmas.org. It is a website put together by a church that wanted to do more than just talk about simplifying their celebrations.
My (adult) children will have presents to open, but I still have nothing I need and little that I want. If you need to give me a present, please give a gift to your favorite charity in my name, or make something for me from materials you already have so that it costs you no more than time.