What if....there were no presents?

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by BearCreekFarm, Dec 24, 2006.

  1. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

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    Christmas brings on a host of mixed emotions for me, and has done so all of my adult life. As a lapsed Catholic, I know the story of the three wise men and the gifts they brought to celebrate the birth of Christ. I understand the symbolism behind the custom of exchanging gifts, or at least, the symbolism which is supposed to be behind the custom. But, I don't buy it, at least not the way the custom is carried on in modern times. I find Christmas, for the most part, to be little more than an excuse for overindulgence, the worst of which is the exchange of totally useless items simply due to the need, or expectation, to present a gift to someone whose likes and desires may be so little known to the giver that they are unable to select an appropriate gift.

    As an adult I probably am more of an agnostic than anything else. I am completely lacking in religious faith of any kind. But if I were a Christian, I think that I would have to seriously consider the role that gift exchanging plays in commemorating the birth of Christ. I really think that I would have to abstain from the custom because it has become, IMO, a mockery of the very ideals which are meant to be celebrated. I think that the children of the world should feel very fortunate that none of them were born to DH and myself, because if we had kids I think that their Christmas experience would consist of spending Christmas Eve night out in the barn, sleeping on a bed of straw with the donkeys (and the mice). When they awoke on Christmas morn, they would find gifts of frankincense and myrrh- sorry, but gold is not in the budget, lol! That, to me, would be a much more appropriate way to celebrate the birth of Christ than going to the local China Mart and buying the latest over-priced, junky toy which is either going to be broken or become the object of lost interest in a week.

    In spite of my lack of faith, I do enjoy exchanging gifts with DH on Christmas, but I do not delude myself into thinking that we are celebrating anything other than the gift-giving occassion which this holiday has become. In fact, this year, which marks the third Christmas of our marriage, I was even more extravagant than I have been in the past. In a sense, anyway. I did buy a large number of gifts for DH, but most of them were:

    a. items we would have purchased eventually for the farm/homestead;
    and b. in a departure from previous years' buying pattern, many of the gifts I bought were pre-owned. Yep, used gifts. What a concept. Something I have never done before, but will probably do again in the future.

    Even though I bought a large number of gifts, I stayed well within budget. I did not use any credit cards, paid cash for everything I bought, and did not dip into our "grocery money" to do it. We sold a piece of property this year, and we have good cash flow at the moment, so I did not feel too bad about the expenses. But, if $$$ had been tight, no way would I have spent it on gifts. I read post after post on the forums where people describe the agony they experience over the $$$ that they "have" to spend on gifts. It's bad enough for those who have the $$$, but so much worse for those who rely on credit to get through the holiday season, or for those who simply cannot afford to buy gifts at all. Why do so many of us feel so compelled to buy gifts that we exceed our financial ability to do so? Would it be the end of the world if we simply told our families and friends that we would not be exchanging gifts? Would it destroy the lives of our children, leave them emotionally scarred for life? Would our loved ones feel unloved if they did not recieve some great expensive gift from us this year? And, if that is the case, doesn't that say something about how wrong this custom has become?

    If I were a Christian, I think, or at least, I hope, that I would be a lot more concerned about the people in the world who lack basic amenities, such as food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and education than I would about whether or not my 8yo got the latest TXL Elmo or Playstation gadget under the tree on Christmas morning. I always laugh when I read (on the forums or in the news media) about how so many families, prior to Christmas, have their kids go through their toys and belongings, sorting out those which they wish to keep from the ones they have outgrown or tired of, so that the outcast items can be donated to some charity or other, making room for more of the newest, latest, hottest, most expensive item advertised on TV? Ha! If we were really feeling so charitable, and really wanted to teach our kids about the true meaning of Christmas, why not keep the old stuff for ourselves and spend our $$$ buying food, clothing, and gifts for the poor or underpriveledged? I mean, really, what does this teach them- that the poor are only good enough to receive our old cast off items?

    Back to my idea about celebrating the birth of Christ- does anyone else think that my idea of opening a Christmas bed and breakfast is a good one? We can fit a lot of guests in mangers out in the barn on Christmas Eve, and we already have the donkeys. Maybe this would be the perfect gift for that person on your list who already has "everything"- the experience of the birth of Christ (the actual birth would have to be simulated, but everything else would be "authentic"). I'll have to give it some more thought, but for now, I am off to wrap a few more presents to stick under the tree.

    Happy Holidays to All.
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    No imitation celebration here either, we don't just see the need.
     

  3. SquashNut

    SquashNut Well-Known Member

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    We went sshopping and the stuff they expect people to spend their money on is just terrible.
    I wanted one of those resutrant mop buckets and Dh wanted a puppy, so we got those. But the appliances, rifles and other things we looked at in our price range were junk.
    We'll save up and get the shot gun we want when we can buy one worth having.
    But I think they just put the worst stuff they can find on the shelves this time of the year and hope we won't notice.
    They were saying christmas sales were way down this year.
     
  4. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    We are skipping gifts,etc this year.Just dont feel like the bother for some reason.Of course,Mrs. probably already got me something.I told her dont,and just get herself whatever she wants if she feels the need.I have no idea what to get her,she has everything she needs,and most of what she wants.

    Hey,I dont equate gifts with love,so thats not an issue either.

    We have more stuff than we need anyhow,and its a fact she agrees with.

    Not a bah humbug,just not what I want to do this year.

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  5. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    I wonder about that.Ive noticed advertising this year on TV is WAAAY down also this year.

    Then they showed the LARGE crowds at the mall,looked like most any other weekday to me.

    So yes,I suspect the sales this year are way down,a reflection on the economy in my opinion.Just way too many good jobs have been lost,and its showing is my guess.

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  6. BearCreekFarm

    BearCreekFarm Well-Known Member

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    You sound like us BooBoo. We don't need anything. But, we're not above indulging in a few wants, lol.

    But, what about extended family? Parents, aunts, uncles, nieces,nephews, friendds, neighbors, co-workers, the underpriveleged, Toys For Tots, etc?
     
  7. RLStewart

    RLStewart Well-Known Member

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    I don't celebrate the holiday either. My dh does to a small extent because his family expects it but its not extreme.

    I work 3rd shift in a dept store around the holidays for extra money and it is absolutly ridiculous the garbage people will buy! Our store is one of the top ones in the chain and we can't keep the stuff on the shelves. We are almost totally sold out of a huge amount of ugly ornaments and cheap knickknacks not to mention more clothes than you can imagine. Makes me kinda sick sometimes.
     
  8. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Nope,after years of nieces and nephews who didnt even acknowledge the gifts and the time and efforts spent on their behalf's,we opted out a couple years ago.

    Havent noticed any change,so that is that.We are done.

    As for indulging,we do that year round,dont need a special gifting day.

    Example,she wanted the Oster Kitchen Center,from the 1970's.Ebayed it and all the attachments for 150 dollars total,got 2 mixers,2 power bases,2 meat grinders,blender,2 glass bowls,shredder,chopper,grater,ice cream maker,sausage maker(with yet another meat grinder),cuisenart like thing.Cant even get the basic mixer new for that cost,and it isnt as good anyhow.This set-up will outlast us.

    Couldnt do that store shopping for the Christmas season at the stores.Guess Im making the same point as Squash Nut and RLStewart and Moopups,dont need junk for the sake of the Season.

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  9. Jaclynne

    Jaclynne Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Discussion of Christian values aside, I believe the whole holiday time is a one big experience in social bullying.

    We are expected to be cheerful-cheerful, jolly-jolly. I'm sorry but this is winter, its cold, damp, dark and some of us don't handle this season well. Holiday depression is about more than gift giving anxiety.

    We are expected to serve up or partake in a ridiculous overconsumption of food. Who needs to have ham and turkey at the same meal along with 7 side dishes and 4 desserts? We eat turkey or ham all thru the year, why do I need to cook them both for one day? Why should it be alright to graze on fudge and cookies for a 4 week period when its bad for you at other times of the year? What's the deal with all the food?

    Why should I be expected to send cards to people who never bother to get in touch with you throughout the year? Why do people feel the need to gift folks with senseless purchases if they don't need them? Why should I be expected to 'tip' my postal carrier - don't they get paid already? Why are we tipping people we would not ordinarily tip?

    Why is it that if you get tired of 'spreading the holiday cheer' you're a Scrooge or Grinch? Aren't those fictional characters?


    I'd like to skip the whole thing. I can celebrate Christ's birth every day.

    Halo
     
  10. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    christmas has been easy for us this year moving far from everyone we sent the kids and grandkids a little check and for each other we bought a piece of furniture for the house
     
  11. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    I also do not celebrate christmas. Several years ago, I told my smallish family that I would no longer give gifts. Part of the reason was the huge disparity in our incomes...they'd give really nice gifts and I couldn't afford similar things.
    Well, they continued to give me gifts, maybe just one from each, and I did give a few small gifts, but mostly hand made and/or grown things. Mostly food items like garlic, apple sauce, local maple syrup and honey (they live in a more metropolitan area), etc.
    They obviously did not appreciate those things, so I have stopped giving all together as I think they may have thrown out many of them.
    I do give them things during the year when I see them, like fresh swiss chard which they love. Recently, we met half way for lunch, and I sent a skein of llama (or was it alpaca???) for my sister-in-law. A month later I still did not hear from her about it. Had to ask my brother if she liked it. She is into knitting.
    I give up. I will take something small when I go for christmas brunch to a friend's house tomorrow, but that would happen any time I was invited out.
    Happy whatever.
    Ann
     
  12. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    This is the most depressing thread I think I ever saw. I feel sorry for those of you who sound so cynical and negative.

    I'm a Christian. I love the season and every Tradition that goes along with it.

    I'll be leaving in a little while for a Christmas Eve service at church.

    I don't see the harm in giving gifts to my children and loved ones. At last count, I've given over $200.00 to needy people I don't even know. I wish I could give $2000.00.

    I'm old enough now that my personal satisfaction comes more from the giving than the receiving.

    Dr. James Dobson wrote a book several years ago entitled, "Happiness is a Choice". I've chosen to enjoy every opportunity I have to share good times with my friends and loved ones.

    If you see Christmas as just a big, commercialized pain, I mean no disrespect, but I do feel sorry for you.

    I hope it's not a waste of time as I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!
     
  13. belladulcinea

    belladulcinea Well-Known Member

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    Well said Boleyz! Bravo and amen!
     
  14. Anita in NC

    Anita in NC Well-Known Member

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    BearCreekFarm: WOW, you just said what I've been thinking.

    I told the kids, 10, 7 and 3, this morning that we won't be celebrating Christmas any more. That we're going to come up with our own traditions. That we're opting out of the whole gift giving thing and over indulging of food.

    That from now on it is going to be spending time as a family and doing family projects over the holidays (which we do any way).

    The kids were okay with what I had to say.

    Just because someone doesn't want to celebrate Christmas doesn't mean they are unhappy. The struggle I have had is coming to terms with how I WANT to spend the holidays and how people think I should spend the holidays.
     
  15. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    I'm 45 years old, and I've been married for 24 years and have 3 children, yet, you know where I long to be on Christmas Eve? My Mom's. It's impossible due to distance (400 miles), but let me tell you why...

    My earliest memories are of Mom and Grandma getting together at Thanksgiving and, the day after the big meal, they would begin baking Christmas cookies.

    Grandma would stay for a week, and every day, hundreds of cookies of all kinds were baked. Then, the thousands of cookies were stored in large tubberware containers until Christmas week...

    Dad would hang lights on the house and take us out to get a live tree, which always HAD to touch the ceiling. We would decorate it with lights and ornaments that had belonged to my great-grandmother, while Christmas records played on the stereo. Dad would spend 2 weeks in his spare time hanging the old, "Lead-Based" icicles one-by-one until the tree was glorious.

    Mom would decorate the whole house...even the toilet had little elves lined up on the lid. She would set out a lighted little "Village" on a table in the hallway, and allow us kids to help arrange it into a little town.

    The church next door had a live nativity scene and we always participated as wise men or shepherds or Joseph...Once, my older brother was an angel...man, did we laugh at him...we figured that was a "girl's" part.

    At midnight on Chrismas Eve, we'd go to the church for a "Candle-light" service. Then we'd rush home, put out cookies and milk for Santa and go to bed and TRY to sleep.

    Christmas was the only time of the year that we got new toys/clothes/necessities, so it was a BIG DAY of gift-giving and Santa always left our main toys out in the open, while Mom and Dad's presents to us were wrapped and under the tree.

    It was a glorious time of Wonder, Faith, Anticipation and Joy...at least in my childhood.

    I guess that's why the traditional traditions are meaningful to me, and that's what I'm trying to pass along to my kids. I think as adults, we have enough "Realities" to deal with....For Christmas, I like for the kids to enjoy the Wonder of it all...I did...(still do!)
     
  16. QBVII

    QBVII Well-Known Member

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    What a great post, Boleyz!
    I'm with you - I love Christmas!
    I get happy just knowing it is Christmas-time - it only comes once a year ---
    even now, I am grieving its passing -
    why does it have to be over?? LOL

    Seems just as I really realize, "Hey, it's Christmas!", it's almost here.....I don't want it to be over for another year.

    I have enjoyed burning candles and singing Christmas songs in the evening with my children. "Silent Night," "Away in a Manger," it brings us closer together and I can share the joy that the Lord chose to come to earth, be born and then crucified for our sins, all because He loves us so much. Yes I am happy at His birth, yes I celebrate.
    It is a joyous time of year for me, it always has been and I'm so thankful that I have my family, my children and my dear husband to enjoy the season with. At last I can share what is in my heart.
     
  17. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We suggest a donation to Heifer International. This year, my brother and sil gave us a Heifer International gift. Our gift was part of a goat (which is $150). I think our part was the tail.

    Our dd gave us the gift of reading through an organization that donates books.

    I make soap every year and give the adults the gift of gourmet silky lather.

    I love Christmas carols and keep the radio on the station that plays the most.
     
  18. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    I find that gifts are a lot more meaningful when given because you want to give them, not because, as you put it, it is a gift-giving occassion.

    DH and I do not give gifts but he buys what he needs to buy when he needs to buy it. And once in a while I ask and he is generous enough to allow me to buy something that I don't *need* but truly want (such as a spinning wheel or about a zillion pounds of raw wool). LOL

    donsgal
     
  19. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    In wealth or in want, we have so much to be thankful for. Thanks for this great post. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
     
  20. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Yep,thats how I see it.

    I dont need anyones 'sympathy' for how I chose to deal with societies 'norms',no more than you need my sympathy for your sad choices in my book.

    Dont need Corporate Americas propaganda to make me happy.Yet all the junk given,thats 'love' and 'good cheer' to a lot of people,clearly.Bet the Majority of you have trees stuffed with presents.Why ?????????

    Dont see what that has to do with Christs birthday.But for most of America,it somehow does.

    So,we are celebrating Christ,just not with a bunch of gifts.

    I admire folks with the gumption to say "Enough is Enough"

    BooBoo :gromit: