Now, I'm not exactly Scrooge but I don't celebrate Christmas in a big way. I usually start thinking about it a week or two in advance and then wonder why I feel so rushed! So I was surprised to get an email this week about planning Christmas gifts, including planning NOT to give them. Seems a bit early to me!
But as Maralee says "Christmas Season begins earlier and earlier every few years. A generation ago, it started the day after Thanksgiving. A generation or so before that, our great-grandparents celebrated the 12 Days of Christmas. And go back about 100 years or so, and most people put up their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve for a two-day celebration.
But now, as soon as a pumpkin spice anything is back on the menu at Starbucks, you know that stores are decorating for the holidays, and Christmas sales are being touted as “Pre-Pre-Black Friday Bonus Days.”
So for anyone thinking of cutting back on gifts this year, she suggests it's best to let everyone know early on. That way they can plan it into their preparations and shopping lists. She provides '7 Ways to Tell Folks You Won’t Be Buying Them Christmas Gifts This Year or That You’re Cutting Back on the Number of Gifts You’re Buying.'
Well this seems sensible to me. Partly because we have downsized considerably in recent years and are still getting rid of 'stuff'. Partly because we have had ten years of austerity in the UK and people are feeling the pinch. Partly because I've got to a point in life where 'things' don't matter very much whereas people do.
Last year, at my daughter's company, they all decided to spend an agreed, small amount on secret Santa gifts and to buy them from a charity shop (a shop selling second-hand goods to raise money for a specific charity). It was a great success.
Once, many years ago, a good friend and I decided to stop buying presents for each other and treat ourselves to a posh lunch together instead. We loved it!
And I used to work with two ladies who had a years-old tradition of giving each other a brooch. The same brooch! Every year one would wrap it beautifully and give it to the other to wear for the year. They had a great laugh over it and I think what meant more to them than anything was the tradition itself. The repetition of an expression of friendship which grew deeper as the years went by.
And that's what it's all about really isn't it? An expression of affection?
She also offers advice for dealing with people who buy you a gift anyway, even after you've both agreed not to buy them.
Anyway, that's quite enough thinking about Christmas for me! But I thought it might be useful or interesting for others who are better organised than I am, to start thinking about it - the link to Maralee’s article is below.