Indulge me for a blog, please? This is a true sore subject for me, my family and many of my friends.
For some of us who have been around for more than a decade or two, we can remember the days when we used to get up on Christmas morning and go to church (what is that?) all dressed up (no jeans, no denim, no short skirts or platform shoes) and then come home and open presents from our family. Actually it was presents from Mother and Fathers to their children. I don’t recall buying many gifts in return except I have this vague memory of buying my father his annual Old Spice cologne but it must have been for Father’s Day now that I think about it.
Normally we had to wait until after my parents had their daily screaming fight before we got to open presents but after all they had been married over 20 years, they earned it. Don’t you think marriage should be treated as a contract now like the NBA where terms are renegotiated frequently even though the man and woman are damn lucky they found someone who actually wanted to marry them? Maybe our divorce rate would go down? Back then we had a family of five (3 children) living in an apartment in Chicago which was a one bedroom. The three of us children didn’t know any better; we had a place to live and never knew we were kind of poor.
That was in the day, unfortunately, when discrimination was still OK and the banks would not lend money to my father who was an immigrant. You didn’t even have to prove you were an illegal then you just had to look like it. But then I could also buy cigarettes at 7 years old with a forged note from my mother. It was also at a store where they held an open “charge account” for my parents so we could go in and buy something to eat (or smoke) without paying for it because they knew my parents were good for the money. So we couldn’t buy a house even though both my parents worked full time plus.
Well as we got older it seemed that Christmas had become so much more of a guilt trip than a day to remember and celebrate the birth of Christ. First there was the year that my sister bought me something which was more expensive than I bought her. I still remember to this day how horrible I felt that she might think she was not worth more than the $4 I spent on her and the $3 I spent on her son. I even remember what I bought her, a black vinyl purse. I bought my nephew one of the plastic bathtubs that you sit on the counter to bathe a baby.
The very next year I began stressing out earlier in the year, vowing not to let that happen again. I was able to get better presents because I had gotten an after school job and saved all the money from that. Looking back, there was a lot of homework that didn’t get done and too much pressure on me to prove my love by buying presents for someone. Wasn’t it Christ that was born?
Fast forward now almost 50 years…
Today we have families that are out of work, lost their homes and both living off their families or the government but still don’t seem to get that we are not the ones that were born on Christmas Day. Why are we buying presents for each other?
Have you been to a Wal-Mart lately around Christmas to see some of the stuff they stock up on to sell to us that we might be wrapping up as gifts? I go into a Wal-Mart and almost have to stop and stare and wonder at how they think I would buy things like that and feel OK about giving as a gift to anyone that I care about. It’s OK for me to slam Wal-Mart because plenty of Americans are not working even though they are the largest private employer in the U.S. since they import the majority of their merchandise from outside the U.S. Wal-Mart employs more than two million people.
I don’t have a problem with families who have been saving all year to shop on Black Friday to buy a new TV for their home or clothes that they can buy on sale that day but those are not the majority of the shoppers out there. People, not just women, are buying because it’s tradition. It’s a tradition that is long overdue to be overhauled.
Several years ago we stopped buying presents for everyone except our very small grandchildren. Maybe over time we will also be able to educate the little ones on why they are not getting presents either. The adults in our family are thrilled to be released from the financial burden of Christmas with us. They no longer worry about what they are going to buy us or the guilty pleasures of us buying for them without the expectation of a gift in return because they were unable to afford them.
So you might wonder, what do we do on Christmas or the days leading up to Christmas? Well we kind of just wander around watching others endure the agony and defeat of days like Black Friday and the stress on people’s faces of knowing that they have to buy things even though they can’t afford it.
It is so fabulously freeing to be free of gift giving that we can actually focus on family and the true meaning of Christmas. Try it…..
You will love it! Merry Christmas.
An original blog by Candice.