Christmas is celebrated all over the world as a time of spreading the message of universal love, and that is expressed through the giving of gifts. However, many have come to find that it is also the season to be jolly…and broke. I can include myself in this group. Who knew that telling your loved ones how much you care about them could be so costly? Each year, we spend trillions of dollars on expensive gifts, parties and decorations to make ourselves merry. As a child, I found all of this to be very exciting, but I can honestly admit that, like most children, I was mainly interested in what was under the Christmas tree rather than what was on it. Nowadays, I, like many others, find that all of the fuss that is generated in the weeks leading up to Christmas leaves me a bit burned out. By the time the big day arrives, I’m just ready to get the gift giving part over and done with. It is only as I matured that I realized how I have inadvertently been cheated of the true meaning of Christmas. The best gift should not come with a receipt, nor should it be covered with wrapping paper topped neatly with a big bow. I have come to realize that the greatest gift truly is the gift of love.
To me, the best thing about Christmas is spending time with family. It is the time of year when relatives who have relocated and college students all converge at home or Grandma’s house to catch up and swap stories. It is the time of year when family feuds are set aside for a few days so that people can remember how much they really love one another, and it is the time of year to contemplate how grateful we all are to be a part of our crazy, dysfunctional but unquestionably devoted families. You see, that is what excites me about Christmastime. It is not the gifts or the Christmas parties that I look forward, but it is the gifts of laughter and joy I help create with those I love that I anticipate.
This year I had finally had enough and decided to try and change the way my family would celebrate Christmas. I proposed to them that we should not buy any gifts but should focus on spending time together and making memories. Well…that was quickly vetoed. I think that our Christmas spending habits have become so intertwined in the institution of Christmas that it is too scary to even contemplate breaking with those traditions, even if it is for our own benefit. They did, however, agree to spend less and were much happier for making that decision. That is because the best Christmases are the ones in which we can remember being happy and the ones in which we create positive memories that sustain us all until the next year.