With only days left before Christmas the family is in high gear. Our daughter has waited until the week before to really start shopping and the primary question is: “What do you want for Christmas?” This of course has been a question we’ve posed to her and our son-in-law numerous times starting back in October. Their response, like ours, is “I don’t really know of anything I need.”
When we tell this tale at work our co-workers label us as Scrooges. The fact that we don’t “want” items at Christmas somehow means we are destroying the spirit of the season. Because our lists don’t appear on Amazon we are putting “Hum-bug” on the tradition of giving. While in reality the truth is we don’t want or really need anything.
There was a time when we did want stuff, and lots of it. Books were always a big hit, but with the advent of e-books, a gift card from Barnes & Noble or Amazon allows for a electronic collection that requires no dusting. DVD sets were very popular, but now we stream. Clothing was much in demand, but our fluctuating measurements makes them hard to purchase. Once upon a time: cooking tools, building tools, sewing tools, grooming tools, and more were all on our lists. Today we take a second look at something before we “want it.” Often that pause before purchase makes us realize its not something we must have.
This new attitude about buying and wanting became a lifestyle choice only five or six years ago. It happened oddly enough at Christmas when a close relative passed away and we found ourselves in charge of their estate. Although they were not horrendous consumers, they were savers of everything. Cards, boxes, letters, pamphlets, magazines, books, and more dating back to their 1920s childhood. Even cups with broken handles or pots with holes in them were for some reason saved. I’m sure as products of the Great Depression an appreciation for things played a huge part in their decision not to toss anything. For us, wading through piles of items with rubber gloves on our hands, and masks covering our faces (the dust and dirt was beyond real) it was a wake up call to hoarding. We didn’t want to live like this, and we didn’t want our family stuck with cleaning it up once we passed.
We have read and seen a great deal on television about minimalist. In fact, our daughter and her husband are quasi-minimalist. One reason that buying for them at Christmas time is always a challenge. In addition, as a family we have all changed the way we consume. Instead of waiting for the holidays for something, we buy it when we see, or need it. I think this has become a method most folks now adhere too. Also, Black Friday style bargains, 50% savings sales, or major coupons seem to flow throughout the year. Finally, many times you can’t wait on something you see, because in 2 weeks it could be gone for ever, or made worse through technology upgrades.
True we may be in the Scrooge camp when it comes to family Christmas gatherings. We no longer participate in the traditional stock piling of presents under the tree. We all stick with simple stocking stuffers, and if we each get lucky we mange to purchase each another a gift that is really something wanted and/or needed. (Socks are still an excellent gift.)
When it comes to our community we donate to our church, food banks, Hospice, and other places where the money remains local. Hopefully our change in consumption has made us appreciate what we already have, and allowed us to live a simpler life, cherishing our time with friends and family each and every holiday season.