Christmas Presents, Christmas Past
From Coffey Break for Healthy Alternatives

FROM Christmas Presents, Christmas Past
December 2022

Think fast! What did you get for Christmas last year?

Except for that first bike, car, or engagement ring, the holiday excitement is so intense around other things, few remember the next day, let alone the next year. Such a waste of time, money, and effort. Even worse, some fail to recover financially before the next Christmas rolls around.
Why should this “holi” day exact such a toll? Thanksgiving and Easter are gift-free holidays, and no one feels slighted.

Where is it written that Christmas requires paying homage to everyone BUT the Christ Child whose birthday it represents? Surely the Wise Men’s intent with their gold, frankincense and myrrh was not to initiate a tradition of frantic gift-giving for EVERYONE and his brother. Commercialism has taken the “Christ” out of Christmas!

Our awakening occurred several years ago when our College Age Kids lamented their limited finances along with the encroachment of Christmas. Friends, they said, were even worse off. Our son suggested he’d like to completely abolish Christmas.

Where did we get the illusion that affection, loyalty and respect equate to store-bought goods?
Compounding this idiocy, most presents become white elephants to be hidden, stored, thrown out or recycled. “It makes me want to do away with Christmas altogetherr,” said our son.

Moreover, it was noted, few parents know what to get their spouse, let alone high-tech-proficient offspring. And toddlers prefer Mom’s pots, pans and cardboard boxes over expensive “child correct” toys.

Kids’ imagination, the GREATEST GIFT OF ALL would be far better peaked building forts, sand castles and tree houses rather than becoming couch-potato -Game-Boy addicts.

As for adults, let’s be honest. Except for the thought, how many gifts are REALLY Spot On? Save your money. Pen those caring thoughts on paper so they might be treasured for life.

The Thanksgiving holiday, with emphasis on family, love and togetherness, is perhaps the most cherished holiday of all. As the birthday of Christ, shouldn’t Christmas be even more so?

Thus enlightened, that Thanksgiving Day we announced our intent to dispense with the Christmas gift ritual. Extended family’s initial shock eventually changed to relief. With five children (last one adopted) and more grandchildren in our immediate family, even token gifts represent a sizable investment.

Now, as this next gift-free Christmas inches near, we treasure the sights and sounds of Christmas minus strained resources and frazzled nerves.

We’ll join hands on Christmas Day and perhaps listen to a special Bible segment Great Grandmother once chose for thespian granddaughter to recite. We’ll partake of food and mirth to warm our hearts and appetites, and concentrate on the gift of togetherness, rather than the gift we might have forgotten.

We’re none the worse for lack of gifts. There’s a lot less cleanup. And no mountain of bills to greet the New Year. Gifts are reserved for special occasions and birthdays when attention is lavished on a single honoree, rather than the masses.

If we waver in our new tradition, it helps to find someone over 50 who recalls when stockings filled with fruit and nuts were more prized than today’s glitzy fare. Or when another financially strapped father’s priceless gift to his children is recited to this day: “T’was the night before Christmas…”
Now, when the best minds on Madison Avenue compete for our hard-earned dollars before Halloween goblins arrive, I’m thankful our offspring challenged mindless rituals that robbed us of virtues, wealth, and health. Our forefathers set aside December 25th to honor the Christ Child, not commercialism.

Christmas IS for giving – of self, not hollow trinkets. Now that Christmas presents are Christmas past, we put Christ back in “Christmas.”

POSTSCRIPT:

The above was penned when our children were college-age. All have since grown to be responsible adults, found their careers, had children of their own, and one now has 2 grandchildren. And yes, we have bowed a bit to conventionalism and now draw names to bring an anonymous, low-priced gift for playing “Silly Santa,” otherwise known as “Dirty Santa.” It brings a bit of holiday hilarity to a warm family Christmas.


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