Christmas Confessions

Cheer – Shmeer.  Here are a few things I confess to doing and enjoying and believing about Christmas time.

Yes, It is okay to buy gifts at the thrift store.

I’m a thrifting fanatic –  I’m at my local store at least three or more times a month (they know me, and my son too)   I see used gifts and items as having a backstory, rather than just being discarded.  Also, the best discount you can get – even better than Black Friday (usually).  I also know that in this day and age, people use things far fewer times than in the past – many items are barely used. If the item is obviously still in good condition, then yes – by all means – gift it.

Lifebridge Books

If you know – please tell me EXACTLY what you want.  Link to it if you can.

On the other hand, you can’t buy everything at the thrift store, and sometimes people don’t want another batch of holiday cookies.  (Although, I don’t personally know those people.)  Calling on Melillo family tradition here –  I am very comfortable with the idea that you can ask for exactly what you want – and other people really want to get it for you.  It’s not selfish to know what you want – it’s discerning.  (This is exactly what happens in a wedding registry, people.).  Also, buying you something you can afford doesn’t really strike me as odd.  Even though I know I can afford one $10 book, fifteen of them are out of my price range… which is why I asked 7.5 different people for 2 books each.

Faux “Traditions” are fine – It’s okay to have one or two staples and rotate through others as you please.

The husband and I have only been married 2.33 years – we haven’t quite got this “tradition” thing down yet – but we celebrate holidays to the max with parties, cookies, wine, carol singing etc. (Not so much on the Martha-Stewart like decorations).  I’m not worried that we don’t read a certain book, decorate a tree on the same day every year, or always watch It’s a Wonderful Life each year… yet.  We’re still working it out.

I figured I’d make it easy on us, but keeping a book of a few of the things we do.  We started *that* tradition last year.

Secretly – I’m Not a fan of Secret Santa, or the Yankee Gift Swap.

Oh the Pressure of the Yankee Gift Swap!!  And are people taking this seriously?  Or not?  Or Seriously Unseriously?  Are we going for gag gifts?  Or something usable?   And what if no one want so swap my gift, at all?  My first Yankee Gift Swap EVER I ended up going home with these  –

I was 14, and I had NO idea what they were.  And the ones I got were rusty.  Yep, I’m pretty sure the giftee just picked them up at the junk yard to be funny.  Also, I was pretty disappointed that I’d even bothered to spend five dollars on some chocolate to end up with those… things. It was not pleasant.

I don’t read the Christmas Story before I open presents.

Nativity Scene – Gerard David (c. 1512)

As an evangelical Christian there are a lot of things I believe about Christmas –  a day we refer to as a “high holy” day, and in fact is actually a whole season of meaningful, wonderful expressions of hope, joy, love, and peace.  And though my spirituality informs how I behave and act during this season, it doesn’t dictate and lock me into specific rites.  Do I read the Christmas story?  Definitely.  (I prefer the version in Luke, here).  However, I like to do it at a time when I’m not eyeing a stack full of gifts with a heart filled with curiosity, rather than the aforementioned peace.

Finally, I think it’s totally okay to go overboard at Christmas.

(if you keep some things in mind…)

Honestly, I wasn’t shocked at the numbers I posted the other day about how much the average American plans spends at Christmas.  Based on the numbers of pinterest pictures I see advocating the four (or three, or five) gift Christmas, the blogs I have read where people are giving up presents entirely, and the green newsletters that make it into my email, I was almost convinced that people were about to abandon the idea of the abundant Christmas.  Even anecdotal reports from friends on “Black Friday” shopping, said that were the quickest trips to the mall they’ve ever made had me questioning my assumptions of the blow-out Christmas.

While I’m not hesitant to say when we can’t afford something, or when the addition of one more gadget to our lives won’t make life simpler (sorry tablet.) I am hesitant to say I want to cut back on giving.  Especially to the people I hold nearest and dearest.

I get it!  People have enough stuff!  Why do they need more?  But, I’m not giving people a gift because I think that this gift will increase their happiness, that this gift will make their lives easier, that they really NEED *this* particular gift.

No, the first reason I’m giving gifts to friends and family is because I love them.  I love them lots of different ways during the year, by spending time together, going out for coffee, and performing little acts of service.  But there isn’t a time to give meaningful gifts the rest of the year.  By and large, people are expected to select and purchase their own possessions.  (I know what you’re thinking, but most adult birthday parties I’ve been to require or request no gifts.)And then, there’s the thrill of opening a pile of presents – No matter what the oddly wrapped packages turn out to be.

My parents wrapped up (I’m pretty sure) every last thing they bought in December – socks, underwear, toothpaste, floss…etc.  Those are gifts too, ones we take for granted a lot – and it was funny to think of them as gifts that expressed care only when they were under the Christmas tree.

So go out.  Buy good gifts.  (Don’t think too hard about it).  And don’t break the bank.

– Beth Melillo

Like this?  You might also like my list: 8 Things I Think are True – But They Aren’t.

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One response to “Christmas Confessions

  1. I have to say, I definitely appreciated the wrap everything philosophy. Toothpaste, socks, etc. are so much more fun when wrapped up under the Christmas tree! And it’s still a good way for me to get into the excitement of Christmas when I look under the tree and see several wrapped presents, even when I know they’re just things we need around the house!

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