>Why I’m glad to "do nothing" for Christmas

Posted: 21/12/2010 in rants


This advent has been a great advent for me, and for one reason: no stinking presents.

Now before you start crying “scrooge” let me explain a bit. My family, this year, decided not to exchange gifts. This is has been a royal relief for me. Last year, there were many gifts exchanged and there was a lot of happiness, but honestly it the gift giving tradition is starting to be one that I can do without. This year, the big trip to the Phillipines counts as Christmas for everyone. No presents needed.

First, let’s face it: it really is a secular tradition. There are plenty of secular traditions that are great. I don’t object to them. However, Christmas has gotten so over-commercialized that you have to dig baby Jesus out from under all the frankincense and myrrh we’re burying him in. Instead of spending some contemplating the incarnation and thinking about what it means for the prince of peace to come to earth, we’re busy racking up our credit cards to prove that we love our family. No thanks.

Secondly, I am very much okay with not receiving gifts from my family this year. Last year, I was generously given a huge stack of books from my parents, but I haven’t even read them all yet. In an entire year! I do not want my family to feel like they have to give me more things that I don’t really need to stay connected to me. The thoughtfulness of things like phone calls and Christmas cards is enough.

Now, I know many people love giving gifts. I do too. What I don’t like is the sense of obligation that Christmas brings to it. Shopping is a stressful chore. The constant marketing makes me ill.

Isn’t there a better way to celebrate Advent and Christmas?

  1. Scott says:

    >I completely agree, and I'm glad to see there are others who opt out of the Christmas Machine. It's long ago become disconnected from the religious solemnity and has gotten mind-bogglingly ridiculous. Thank you for opting out!

  2. Heidi says:

    >Joel, I think about this a lot now and I'm struggling with a solution that works for us. The problem is, it really only works if your whole family is in. We didn't exchange gifts with my parents this year purely due to financial constraints, but we've always kept it simple with the rest of our family anyway. But now that we have a son, I'm sorting through how to focus on Christ during the season, but still enjoy the cultural traditions we have. I actually wrote an article/blog post about it for work and may have to put it on my personal blog.Anyway, I'm glad that you could declutter this year and focus. Merry Christmas, Joel!

  3. Dan says:

    >Rock on Joel. If my kids weren't so young, I'd opt out completely. As it is, I need to indoctrinate the next generation, right? Little joke there, but also a little bit of a self-indictment. Honestly, though, I don't know if there is a way to celebrate Christ's birth. The Bible doesn't tell us when it really happened and what the Bible tells us to remember is his death and resurrection, isn't it? I say let the secularists have thier fun. We'll celebrate Easter.

  4. Jaret says:

    >Good luck! I'm trying the Alternative Christmas gifts this year. My sis who's a freshman at SF State is getting an envelope that says 1 month's tuition on it, little does she know that it's for a kid in Uganda. Hopefully it catches on with the family.Also, check this guy outhttp://blog.sojo.net/2010/11/26/buy-nothing-day-as-advent-activism-against-the-demon-mammon-2/

  5. Jin-roh says:

    >@Jaret, I love the idea of alternative Christmas. I did that for my Dad one year. In fact, I think that is how I will celebrate Christmas with any family I have.

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