Saturday, November 28, 2009

Approaching the holidays

So it's officially Christmas shopping season, and everyone is talking about how far along they are in their shopping and wrapping, what the kids want for Christmas, how this year's haul or celebration will size up to prior years, and the (choose one) moral repugnance or innocent thrill of the Black Friday greed stampede.

I'm feeling my inner humbug stir.

Joe and I have never celebrated Christmas in our shared home, though we appreciate the heartfelt presents that find their way to the kids, and we sometimes join our larger families when they're convened for the holidays. This year we'll be on our own through December.

I've tamed the inner humbug somewhat, and I'm planning to give a nod to the evergreen-and-eggnog days of winter (though we'll be in Florida). We might break out my foot-tall Christmas tree (complete with tiny gingerbread men!) and a wooden train. We might do some baking and crafts to invite in the warmth and celebrate the passing of midwinter. But the 25th won't be our holiday, and (as usual) we won't buy gifts.

Our kids don't salivate over annual goodie lists, and we prefer to avoid the prezzie frenzy of family celebrations. It's not just consumerism and its effect on society that bug me, it's much more the elevation of material goods to such importance in one's life, and the effect of that stuff-centricity on the self. There's something unsavory about the focus on quantity, on checklist motivation, on token presentation for the fulfillment of hollow expectation. We don't want our kids to experience any of that, or to see us modeling it.

We love nice things. But even nice things don't deserve their own holiday in our life, to be shared with the destructive pressure to buy, give, and be of good cheer even if the season puts you in debt. Or more deeply in debt.

We opted out of Christmas long before going on the road, but this new lifestyle certainly discourages the accumulation of stuff. If you got rid of almost everything and took your family on the road, what would change in your approach to the holidays? Would those changes be for the better?

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