Are you kidding me?!

How much do you spend on Christmas?

It’s out of control.
I googled “stocking stuffers” and was hard pressed to find a single item on the lists for less than $10. If people really go by these guides you see in magazines and on line this time of year, and you put just a few things in the stocking plus some really inexpensive items like the ritual toothpaste and toothbrush (c’mon, I KNOW I’m not the only who has gotten a new toothbrush for Christmas every year of her life), that’s $50 just on the stocking. That’s JUST the STOCKING!
Then what do you put under the tree? Googling “real simple gift guide” turned up some ideas. Costly ones. A twenty dollar gift? A fifty dollar gift? How many gifts do you put under the tree anyway?
If you’re spending $100 per person on Christmas presents for everyone in your family, that can add up pretty fast. My guess is for the average American $100 per person is on the low end of the Christmas budget.
My guess is your child already has plenty of toys. Plenty of things with which to occupy himself. Plenty of clothes. Plenty of love and affection. Ask yourself why you’re doing it.
Then what about your families of origin? Are you buying your parents presents? Siblings? Their spouses? Nieces? Nephews? Are your kids “buying” for their cousins? Do they really need all that stuff? Do you? Ask them what they think of what you got them last year. Do they still use it?
Do they even remember what it was you spent four trips to the mall and hours agonizing over to give them? Is is worth your time, your money, your emotional investment to shower all these people with gifts?
What about the paper boy? The hairdresser? The mailman (less than $20 by law)? The kids’ teachers? Piano teacher? The garbage man? Seriously?! You’re forking over another $100 just in tips or “little appreciation gifts”? How many “#1 teacher” ornaments can someone put on her tree anyway?
WHY do we do this?! It’s the season of giving. Sure. According to whom? The retailers? The catalogs? The people anxious to make a buck and pump up the economy?
Jesus gave us the ultimate gift of his very life and breath. So that’s why I should give a Buddah Butter Dish to my quirky office mate or a Bear’s Head Staple Remover to my assistant.
Grandchild tee shirt for Opa
The wise men (who, by the way, likely would have numbered many more than three) brought three gifts to toddler Jesus (which would mean they all didn’t give something). Because He was BORN! Because He is the light of the world! Because He is our Savior, not simply because it was a certain date near Winter Soltice. Jesus birth isn’t even celebrated until 300 years after His birth, death, resurrection and ascension. It’s nowhere mentioned in the Bible to therefore give gifts to your fellow man to honor Jesus’ birth, or because the Magi did it.
Sure I’m a bit on the outer fringe with my opinion. But I’m not the only one. (link is to an excellent article outlining why you might want to consider scaling back)
We’ve done some alternative things to show people that we love them without going crazy spending and shopping. One year we gave everyone a gift curtailed to their interests in their honor to Samaritan’s Purse. You could also help people in real need at Compassion. Another year, I bought gifts at second-hand stores or from friends getting rid of some of their items. Second hand gifts have the bonus of less packaging too. Generally we make gifts–like a personalized wine bottle label, a calendar with pictures of the grandchildren, a mantle scarf, ornaments…Use your imagination (or steal liberally from the internet like I do).
Second hand Animal Train for Cadrian
I’m just trying to get you to think about why you do what you. I want to help you see that just because that’s what “everyone else” does or it’s the way you’ve always done it, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it that way.
You may think it’s Bah. Humbug. But truly it’s Merry Christmas. Even without the excessive show of gifts.

7 thoughts on “Are you kidding me?!

  1. Sooooo agree! As my children have gotten older, the cost of their requested gifts have skyrocketed! no longer content with a mere Thomas train or Barbie outfit — it's now big Lego Star Wars Kits, DS Nintendo, Wii, or the Barbie camper! If I allowed it, the wish lists of 3 children would not even fit on our fridge!
    Thus, they are held to 3 items. They can ask for any 3: that does not mean they will necessarily get all 3. We will judge based on the cost of the items. Often, we give them one, grandparents will get one, and Santa will bring the 3rd.
    And I don't spend much on their stockings: new toothbrush and toothpaste, hair barrettes, stickers, some treats, and a clementine in the toe (family tradition).
    Also, when they bring me that Christmas list, they must also bring at least one toy to donate to the local charity. They must also contribute allowance money to purchase items for the shoebox campaign. The local schools are great in that they actually request no gifts be given to teachers: instead, a donation to the local toy or snowsuit fund in the teacher's name.
    Finally, because the whining hit an all time high this year — we also made the decision to sponsor a child through Plan Canada. I am hoping that via letters with the little girl in El Salvador — they will see how truly blessed they are!

  2. I'm glad that I can sew and paint! The gift requests have increased in price as the girls get older. We limit the number of gifts but the amount we spend keep on increasing. Good post!

  3. WOW!! What a great blurb!! Exactly how I feel! Can you believe that I have to get my husband's COUSIN'S CHILD a present?? C'mon! I finally got my husband's side to can the presents with adults. Kids…well, not yet. I hate to whine, but I have a really ungrateful niece and nephew…they don't care at all what I get them…never a thank you from either of them or their mom. We're like RoryBore said above. We limit the presents to 3 things…they won't get everything they ask for. Stockings are quite the same way, too. I do, however, like to make my kids' teachers, piano teacher, school bus driver (a good friend of the family), and mailman (just b/c I like him!) homemade hot cocoa or sugar scrubs (for the ladies) in mason jars. You are exactly right…we've all lost the sight of what Christmas means. We have a birthday party for Jesus and a cake.

  4. First of all- LOVE the new banner. I've been wondering when you would update ;). 2nd- we make presents and give second hand every year. It's Jesus' birthday in our world, not a Santa or list in sight. Well written Jessica, amen. Don't let Walmart know your opinion! 😉

  5. You I know I couldn't agree more. I heard on the radio the average family spent $200 per child. We're actually getting real radical and rethinking Christmas altogether (I know we've talked about this some, but T & I have been doing some more talking and thinking…). So glad you posted.

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