Monday, December 5, 2011

The True Spirit of Christmas

It's getting harder and harder for me to get into the Christmas spirit each year. It's not that I don't like this time of year- aside from the cold, that is. Quite to the contrary- I love the Christmas season. I love having a whole month to celebrate my Savior's birth. I love the lights, decorations, and music. I love that most people feel more joy at this time of the year and even smile more.

It's all good until you add in the commercialism and excess.

It used to be that you could buy a child an inexpensive gift and they'd be thrilled. Heck, if they were young enough even a dollar store doll or truck would make their eyes light up. You also used to be able to buy something thoughtful but affordable for friends and relatives and they were sincerely grateful. Somewhere along the line, that all changed.

Now we have families who are so busy buying everything they want all throughout the year that it takes the fun out of buying for them. The kids already have every new and amazing toy, and often look down upon the simpler or less expensive ones. The adults have kept pace by buying every new and exciting gadget or upgrade that comes out. Nowadays it's not uncommon for an American family to have a cell phone for every child (usually the newest ones available), a gaming system (or two or three), laptop computers (multiple), flat screen tv's (multiple), iPods for every member of the family and iPads or tablets for the teens/adults. Then there's the clothing, dvd's, music, and other miscellaneous items that every family acquires. It all adds up to a family with so much stuff that giving them anything more seems superfluous.

I'm not saying I'm against giving gifts. I love buying something I know someone really wants and will enjoy. I've been able to buy things for my mom and other family members that they were thrilled to get. I've also been blessed to be able to buy gifts for families in need, and that's one of the best feelings in the world! I love giving. Problem is, I don't have unlimited funds and I refuse to go into debt to buy someone yet another item that's just going to be added to their already massive abundance. Why should I even try to buy something when they've been busy buying it all year long? Especially since my less than grand offering is often not even recognized with a "thank you?"

I guess maybe I'm not having a hard time getting into the true spirit of Christmas, just the spirit of "more, more, more, spend, spend, spend" that's come to symbolize Christmas in America. So if you don't get a present from me, don't assume it's because I don't love you. It's probably because you already have everything I could have thought to buy so I've taken what I would have spent on you and given it to a local foodbank or helped out someone who needed new glasses, or even gave a gift in your name to Heifer International. Like I said, I love giving. But I want it to mean something, to show that I'm celebrating the birth of my Savior by sharing His love, and not just competing to see who can buy the most expensive thing under the tree.