Before we know it, many of us will be sitting around the Christmas tree opening countless gifts from friends and family. If we’re lucky, someone will have read our wish list and whatever it is that we’ve lusted over for the past couple of months will be among the pile of presents. We’ll tear through the carefully wrapped paper in anticipation and squeal with glee when we finally find that piece of plastic we’ve been waiting for. And when the chaos of opening presents has finally subsided, the floor littered with the dead remains of wrapping paper, we’ll feel like we’ve just had a great orgasm; both exhausted and satisfied.
Is the meaning of Christmas to just buy a bunch of shit for each other?
Over the years I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the holiday season. Mindless consumption. Thoughtless gifts. Excessive spending. A complete lack of gratitude. Have you ever asked yourself why you’re even buying gifts in first place? Is it out of obligation? Social pressure? A desire to conform? A need to create an image? Do you feel that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without gifts under the tree?
Can you even remember what gifts you received last year for Christmas? And from whom you got them?
This year I’d like to try something different. Instead of the usual orgy of presents under the tree, I’d like to convince everyone within my circle of influence (that means you!) to celebrate the holiday season in an unorthodox way, without presents for each other. My hope for this Christmas is that I can dismantle the “circle of giving” and instead convince my family to pool our money together to buy a cow for a family in Africa.
Tonight was the first time word of my plan reached ears other than our own as Erin shared the idea with her family. I was disappointed to hear that the suggestion of buying a cow was somehow so absurd that the person on the other end of the phone couldn’t stop laughing and had to pass the phone on to someone else.
I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure how buying a cow for a family in need is anymore ridiculous than buying scented candles or any other thoughtless gift for someone who probably isn’t going to appreciate it anyway. It’s only ridiculous because we haven’t stopped to question our traditions.
Wouldn’t joining together as a family to make a difference in the lives of total strangers be more in line with the true spirit of Christmas than buying each other cheap gifts from the mall?