My husband and I haven’t really “celebrated Christmas” since we’ve been married. We haven’t put up a tree, haven’t given gifts. There has been no caroling in the neighborhood, or killer snowball fights. Now granted, we don’t have any kids yet, so I know what you’re thinking…the killer snowball fights are around the corner! 🙂
When I was still in elementary school, my mother sat down with me on the back of the green tractor in front of the barn. I even remember what I was wearing–a colorful striped shirt with streamer barretts.
“Those things your brother heard at school about Santa are true,” she told me.
“But where do all the presents come from?” I asked.
“We buy them for you.”
“You mean, you have to buy the presents? They aren’t free?”
Suddenly, all the magic dissipated. My parents worked hard for their money and used that money to buy us gifts. I was so touched, and felt so guilty, I started crying.
Even as a 7-year-old kid, I thought something about the whole process was wrong. As an adult, as much as I don’t want to come off sounding like Scrooge…
Why do I need six gifts or ten or expect to get one from everyone I know or see during the holiday season? It doesn’t seem logical, and it doesn’t seem fair. It seems selfish and greedy from the wanters point of view and imposing and inconvenient from the givers.
When we dated, I distinctly remember my man asking what I wanted for my birthday, which landed right before Christmas. I told him I did need a pair of tennis shoes, so he took me to buy them. I liked two pair, one for $60 and one for $80. I remember thinking that was terribly expensive for a pair of shoes and I couldn’t ask him to pay that much money for something that I wanted. I bought the $60 pair myself and put the others back. He kept saying, “But it’s your birthday.” I didn’t want him to think I was dating him for his money. I liked him, not the $80 pair of shoes.
So, that Christmas, he gingerly asked, “What do you want for Christmas?”
To which I replied, “I’m just not into gifts. I don’t need anything. I have you.”
Our first married Christmas, we did the normal family get-together gift exchange.
The second Christmas, I had us escape out-of-town. We spent four days over an open fire in a cabin in a Virginia state park and ate homemade oatmeal with milk every morning for breakfast. There was no cell phone service, no internet. We read and did crossword puzzles and woke up at 2 in the morning to watch the lunar eclipse from the glass pane window. It was pitch dark out in the middle of the woods and pure magic.
This year, there will again be the family get-togethers but we decided not to do any gifting. We sent out “the email” and even as my husband went to press send, I asked, “Wait! Should we change it up and make it sound more friendly? Less scrooge-like?”
It said, “Jenn and I aren’t doing Christmas this year. We aren’t giving any gifts and we don’t want any.”
I started laughing. “That sounds horrible! We have to make it sound nicer than that!”
I feel like a Scrooge because of what other people will think of me. But I don’t feel like a Scrooge if I take everyone else out of the equation. I feel like what we’re doing is right–for us at least. We don’t need anything and we don’t want to spend the small amount of time we get together fighting the masses for the “perfect, thoughtful” gift. I just won’t be a part of it.
Why do we need more than one gift, no matter the holiday? Why do we need gifts at all?
(I’d rather spend time with people I like, sitting around talking, cracking pecans, eating and drinking than unwrapping a whole bunch of stuff. It’s just stuff! That’s the best part about tradition. You’re always free to start another one.)
Other Scrooge articles:
- Leadership lessons from Scrooge (empwaynek.wordpress.com)
- Christmas Shopping Scrooge (peejaywbn.wordpress.com)
- Mother Scrooge? (vakkermom.wordpress.com)
- A Christmas Carol, part II (business.financialpost.com)
- Have yourself an All-Consuming Christmas (dothegreenthing.com)
- I’m really not a Scrooge (simplyselah.wordpress.com)