Friday, December 20, 2013

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Or not.

I've been my usual Grinch-y self pretty much all season and for various reasons. The biggest reasons are the fact that in a very short time I will be unemployed and I'm constantly worrying about how we're going to pay our bills (we're already struggling and I'm not unemployed yet!). Other reasons include the nasty cold weather, the assholes on the road--none of those people are in the "Christmas/holiday/whatever spirit"!--my long commute in general, all the things I will miss about my current job and friends in Cape, etc., etc.

On top of all that, there's the Christmas shopping, which I still haven't started, ya know, because we're poor and whatnot. It combines three of my least favorite things: Christmas, shopping, and spending money. Ugh.

And people kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas and honestly I really didn't know what to tell them most of the time. I feel bad asking for things when I'm buying gifts for very few people this year, and the gifts I do buy will be pretty small. Plus most of the things I want/need, people can't buy for me. Things like getting a job, being able to pay bills (I guess cash works for that stuff, but most people don't want to hear that the Xmas cash they gave you paid your electric bill or whatever).

I considered not buying gifts at all. But I would feel bad getting gifts from people and not giving them something in return. Even if that something was cheap and sucks and they'll never use it. It's the thought that counts, right?

I really think that's the main reason I get all Scrooge-y and Grinch-y this time of year though. And it's not the whole giving/receiving gifts thing necessarily. It's mainly the commercialization of it all. The shopping and putting yourself further into debt for all these material things. It kind of bums me out. The fact that there are stores staying open 24/7 from now until Christmas Eve for shoppers who waited until the last minute and apparently can't go shop during normal hours sickens me. It's stupid and unnecessary and an awful way to spend the week/weekend before Christmas. And some people will end up working on the holiday too.

I think everyone has just forgotten what all these holidays are really supposed to be about. It's not about gifts or spending money or any of that. It's supposed to be about family and friends. Spending time with the people around you. And giving to those who have less than you and need more than you. And it doesn't matter what holiday you're celebrating--Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc. There are people who don't have roofs to hang lights on, or living rooms to put a tree, or the money to buy a turkey for dinner, or clothes for their children, etc. We all know these things. We know there are people out there who are struggling more than us. Yet we go to the malls and buy the latest and greatest and most expensive electronics, games, clothes, whatever. All these material things have taken over our lives.

If you told your family you weren't buying anyone gifts but instead you were going to donate your time/money to help someone who really needs it, they'd probably look at you like you were crazy, be a little (or a lot) mad because that's one less present they're getting--but maybe they would think it's a great idea and join you.

Maybe it's a little late to do that this year (well it's never too late to donate) if you've already bought gifts and people have already bought gifts for you. But it might be interesting to give it a try next year. Instead of asking people for the stuff you want or think you really "need" see if they'd be willing to donate to a charity instead. Or volunteer at a food pantry or homeless shelter. Then, when the holiday itself gets here and you go to spend time with your family, you actually get to spend time with them rather than focusing on what they got you.

And no, I'm not suggesting this just because I'm cheap and I hate shopping. I think it would be interesting to try though. Instead of figuring out the perfect gift to get someone, you could instead ask what charities they are most passionate about, and donate to those or find ways to volunteer. You'll probably learn a lot more about that person, maybe become closer with them, and create new traditions by volunteering with them or something like that. The holidays should be about family and friends and the time you spend with them making memories and old and new traditions.

Obviously, I don't have much spare cash to donate right now, but pretty soon, I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands, so I plan to start looking for more volunteer opportunities.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Is this something you think your family and friends would go for?

Happy Holidays everyone! Enjoy the time off and be safe!