Monday, December 26, 2011

The Unpopular Opinion: Holiday Edition (give back!)


I have to get something off my chest.

I think that if you get something for Christmas or another holiday or your birthday, and it's a really important/emotionally significant/funny gift that falls under the "someone went out of their way to give me this and here is the beautiful story behind it and it is actually a really big deal in the narrative of my life" or "this gift is hilarious/touching/really neat and there's a story behind it that the world needs to hear" category, then it's perfectly reasonable to tell the world (i.e. the internet) about it, and share with us why it is so gosh darn great that one of your family/friends was incredibly generous with you.

But what I see all over the internet is something different. Are we really still twelve years old, comparing our laundry lists of ultimately meaningless material items that people gave us for Christmas? Apparently so. I think it's such a gross consequence of our materialistic culture, that we spend our time doing this. Why not talk about the time you spent with your family? Why make others who didn't exchange gifts because they have no money feel bad about their holiday? Why perpetuate the stereotype that Americans are greedy, materialistic and spend more than they make?

On the upside, though, it appears that most Americans I know, at least, did their part and stimulated the economy this holiday season, so there's always a silver lining! I know that some of you might feel offended by what I've just said, but I had to say something, as it's come up again and again when I logged on to the internet these last 36 hours, and I hope you've also done something nice for the world this holiday season. What can you do to help?

  • Donate to Goodwill before January 1st & you can deduct it from this year's taxes!
  • On another tax-deductible note, donate to an organization you care about (my picks? Ocean Conservancy, Farm Sanctuary, World Wildlife Fund & Ducks Unlimited). 
  • Did you get cash for Christmas? Support a local business with your patronage.  Go to a concert featuring local bands. Go to the farmers market this week/weekend instead of the grocery store!
  • Do something nice for a friend, maybe one you haven't seen for a while, or one who is alone and might not have had a joyous holiday season. 
These are just a few examples. Get out there! Do good! Be a good person! & spare me your gift lists.

2 comments:

  1. I love this post!!! We had a discussion with our friends and family this year about giving meaningful gifts (making something by hand for Charlotte that she will love, spending time with her, or donating to a charity) and we were so happy to find that people really listened to us. People mostly gave her coupons to be redeemed for outings together, donated in her name, or made her something - my dad made her an easel, for example. It kept our holiday simple and focused, and it reinforced the value of the household donations we made last year (as compared to donating a bunch of things and then replacing them with other things).

    It's ironic but when Charlotte was an infant, I was so sad about not being able to afford showering her with materialistic crap gifts. Now I think it was one of the best things that happened to us because our holidays are smaller, simpler, and more in line with our personal values.

    Kudos to you for having the balls to say this online =)

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  2. Thank you, Sarah! I think you have a really GREAT group of friends & family, as well -- so impressive that they listened to you! I know I have some friends & family who would listen, but others (mostly old school, traditional people) would think I was a hippie liberal crazy person (I already have this reputation among my Mormon family, of course) -- to them, giving gifts is just something they DO and they can't NOT DO IT. ;)

    I think you are totally on the right path with all of this. Materialistic crap gifts mean absolutely nothing and Charlotte will grow up appreciating everything she has so much more. :)

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