Thursday, December 13, 2012

When did American get so stupid?

It was 1 degree outside the morning of this picture.  Do you know what people were doing before 6am?  Standing in a local store to get a free stuffed animal on Black Friday.  You do know that I can't even sell stuffed animals at a garage sale, right?  We have to give them away and yet people lined up to get them just because they had the year and a FF on them?  See story here.

When did America get so stupid?

I had a pretty big conversation with my parents about Christmas.   I've also had a few other conversations with people randomly over the last few weeks just so I can see if my thoughts on Christmas giving are normal or just absurd.  I've done some research and do know that I'm not the only one that thinks this way but I do also know that I am one of the few.  Case in point...the thousands of people battling the frigid cold and wind the morning of Black Friday just to save a few bucks or rush in a store for that one special item.  Regardless of what results I found I know that this year I am even more adamant about what I need Christmas to be for my family.

The reality of Christmas for so many Americans is that the gifts we buy for others are not really used more than 3 weeks...if at all.

Why have all that money spent on items that someone neither needs or wants?  What if that money was actually spent on a gift that was intentional, fit the child's personality and true desires rather than something that was just bought because...I need to spend $5 more on this person so it is equal...I think that they might like this (but really am not sure)...I liked it and know that this isn't something that they would like at all but I'm going to give it to them anyways (and it was a doorbuster so I've got to have it!).

My kids have closets full of clothes, drawers that won't close because they are so full and toys that sit in closets or shelves and are never used.  I give away more new items from Christmas every year to non-profits just because the items received from Christmas just aren't things that we need.  It was time that I put a stop to this Christmas craziness and prioritize with my family why we are celebrating this holiday in the first place.

This year we are doing two things...quite a bit different than we have in the past:
1) We have asked our family to limit the gifts that our kids are receiving by grandparents to 1.  Yes, just one.  As I told my parents this I could see the wheels turning in my moms head of the things that they want to buy or already have and how they were going to handle that request.  There are other grandkids and my parents like to spend a lot on gifts at Christmas and they want it to be fair and to also match as closely as they can to the other grandparents.  I know this is true in a lot of families...let's call it "the Christmas guilt".   For some reason our world has taught us that we need to spend, spend, spend so we can show that we love someone.  The reality is this...we bring the gifts home and they sit in the rooms, in closets or still in their original boxes for months.  Your "love" is now collecting dust.
2)  We are giving our kids 4 gifts...something that they want, something that they need, an item they can read and something they can wear.  I asked the kids tonight to fill out a sheet with those 4 categories on it so we had an idea of what they are thinking those might be for them.  I did hear the response, "we are only getting 4 gifts?" and although I know that it might seem very unAmerican I also don't want Christmas to be just about gifts.  I don't want toys or clothing that I purchased for them to be stuffed in a closet or given away to some organization or sold in a garage sale in 6 months.  I work way too hard for every dollar that I earn to just waste my money like that.

I also don't want my kids to be ungrateful for what they have.  I want true genuine thankfulness and gratitude and for our kids to understand and appreciate the items that they do have.

No matter what routines we have this time of year...Christmas is coming.  We have the trees up, the lights are blinking outside and the battle between the words "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" are back to being a battle in the stores with what is politically correct.

Our American society may be telling us that Christmas is just another holiday that we celebrate and spend money on.  The real truth though is that you can celebrate this holiday with limitations, teach our American kids what genuine gratitude is and celebrate together with family members...all while still focusing on what this day is truly about...a little baby boy.

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