Just Say “NO” to Christmas Presents and Obligatory Gifting

This is such a good and well-written piece I just had to include it on my blog at this holiday time. Although it is late for this year, it is definitely food for thought for next year. For years I’ve pretty much done what this article says, except that I buy for immediate family only, and they are small gifts. –JoyfulAliveWoman

Reposted from the mental health blog Kellevision which, by the way, you should definitely check out.

December 08, 2009

Just Say “NO” to Christmas Presents and Obligatory Gifting

What would happen if everyone just decided not to exchange presents any longer? Would the Earth spin off its axis?

One day last week I saw two signs which really concerned me: “Holiday Loans” and “Auto Title Loans” Now add these to the “Payday Loans” which are becoming popular.

What’s wrong with this picture? We are borrowing money at 600% interest. We are borrowing money to buy presents for the holidays. We are gambling with the vehicles which take us to work. Why?

I see so many people struggling to get through the holidays then facing January with credit card and other debt that is over their heads. Why not just stop it?

Several years ago I got fed up with what a friend calls “obligatory gifting.” Buying presents for people just because they are going to buy you something. I also got fed up with the Christmas nightmare. The traffic, the pushing, the shoving, the pent up rage and hostility at having to fight through all the hub bub to get enough things purchased to keep everyone else happy.

So I decided to stop. I announced that I would no longer be purchasing Christmas gifts.

The first year several people didn’t believe me and bought presents anyway. I did not reciprocate. I stuck to my guns. The second year? I was off everyone’s Christmas list and out of the loop. No more shopping. No more scurrying, hustling, spending too much, creating debt and anxiety. No more fighting my way through the traffic.

Now I sit back and let everyone else run around. If I want to buy someone something I can. But I am no longer obligated. I do not get stressed this time of year. I do not get depressed in January when I get the credit card bills. I do not feel cheated or resentful in January when I see how much I have spent on everyone else and realize I did not get what I wanted or needed.

What a relief!

If you feel you have to give something, give of yourself.  Donate time to someone’s favorite charity. Plant a tree in their name. Make blankets or scarves for folks who are homeless this winter. Paint grandma’s house. Mow grandpa’s lawn. Take Aunt Ethel to the polka dance or the Tejano dance or the dominoes game. Change the oil in Uncle Fred’s car. If you like to cook, make someone a home cooked meal who can’t normally enjoy one. Read to a child. Gather up all the kids at Christmas and put on a play or paint a mural.

This Christmas be a human “being” instead of a human “buying”. It’s really not about how much stuff you can collect before you die.