I know many people may be afraid to say these words, but I am willing to say out loud what many are thinking: I am so glad the holidays are over.
Sure, it is a time for with bonding with your family, celebrating festive traditions and general merriment, which is all wonderful, but I feel that one overriding factor ruins all of the above: gluttony.
I am not speaking of the gluttony of which the dictionary first defines as over consumption of food and drink (which also occurs this time of year, but I digress), yet the second more evil meaning: greedy or excessive overindulgence.
Translation: gifts and all its surrounding accoutrements (Christmas cards, trees, decorations, parties).
I am no Scrooge, but I am a bit of a bah humbug toward the excessiveness of the holiday season.
I preface all of this by saying that after I became a teenager, we stopped celebrating Christmas at our house.
We are not Christians, but to assimilate to the social traditions of this country, my parents put up a small tree and gave my brother and I presents. As we grew up, my parents decided that we were old enough to understand that we did not celebrate this as a religious holiday, so we were not going to observe it anymore.
They donated our tree and ornaments to the Salvation Army, stopped sending holiday cards and gift exchanges. I did not really feel a sense of loss, as I still received presents on my birthday as well as my parents provided everything that I needed.
Every year during the Christmas time, we hear how the true spirit of the holiday is overshadowed by commercialism and greed, yet we do nothing to correct it.
In fact, “Black Friday” started on Thanksgiving evening at 8:00 p.m. this year!
As I was driving home to celebrate the evening with family and friends, I saw people standing in line outside of Old Navy in 30°F weather. Really? What do you need that badly at Old Navy on Thanksgiving? A pair of jeans?
This season I saw friends and co-workers struggle to pay for gifts they could not afford and get stressed with the thought of getting crushed by herds of people at the mall.
I saw them feeling obligated to get that picture-perfect snap of their family to mail out so everyone could see just how idyllic their life truly is. Most importantly, I saw it for the farce it all represents.
I don’t shun all gift-giving.
While I don’t exchange presents with family or friends, I do give gifts to my staff as a thank you for all the hard work they have done over the year.
One caveat: I try my hardest to give gifts that are experiences rather than actual physical things. A massage for a stressed co-worker, a pedicure for the person who never treats themselves or a gift certificate to the new restaurant that they have been wanting to try.
These are the truly meaningful gestures that are often less expensive, more appreciated and thoughtful than another fruitcake or ugly Christmas sweater.
I personally feel so weighted down by the enormity of “stuff.”
I loathe knickknacks, tchotchkes, bric-a-bracs or whatever you want to call them. I am constantly trying to streamline my life by donating things that I do not use anymore or to someone who may need more than me, re-purposing things for other uses, and basically, consuming less.
I am not perfect (I have a weakness for shoes), but I am striving for a life in which people and experiences, rather than things, bring me joy.
So, here is your resolution for 2014 and beyond: less is more, and by living this mantra, I will actually give more and gain more.
I will spend less money and give more to people truly in need. I will spend less time consuming and more time with my loved ones.
And lastly, I will spend more energy living a simpler, more meaningful life.
Happy New Year.
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