Do Something Christmas

Every Christmas season I find myself getting angrier than I normally do. For some reason, come December I have stronger opinions and want to share them a little louder and more forceful. There are lots of things that drive me crazy about the whole ordeal. It’s not so much Christmas and what it’s supposed to be that I hate. I love getting together with my family. I love eating with people. I even love giving gifts. I love Jesus and I love the story of when he came to earth. I love celebrating these things with the people I love.

Let’s be honest though, Christmas in reality is none of those things anymore. Christmas is first and foremost a time to shop. We love the sales, the discounts and the rush that we get of buying something new of loading our wallets full of receipts and emptying our bank accounts. We love Boxing Day and all the more stuff we can buy for ourselves on sale. We love it so much that we stress ourselves out because we have to make sure that we have gifts for everyone and that no one is left out. Sometimes we have to make sure that our gifts are better than everyone else’s. Other times we just are in the habit of giving something so we wouldn’t imagine not buying them anything this year. This is I think the worst part of Christmas; giving out of guilt or meaningless routine.

We all know what happens, all of sudden we get envelopes of gift cards and cash from all the people you would never expect a gift from in the first place. Gift cards are a win (buyer) win (receiver) win (business) situation. It’s the easiest gift going, and everyone loves getting them because then they don’t get stuck with crappy gifts. Businesses love them even more because well a lot of gift cards don’t get redeemed. Our horrible habits of having to buy people anything, and then resorting to gift cards, ends up just giving these companies free money.

Christmas today is nothing more than another outlet to buy more shit and settle our conscience and give us an excuse to do what we love to do all year. The presents, the decorations, the gift cards; it’s all part of the same cycle that demands we participate in fear that we will lose what Christmas is all about. The looks on people’s faces would be priceless if you tried to do Christmas today without presents. Presents (ie. Stuff) is so intricately tied into everything we do that we would get offended if you tried to separate them.

Christmas isn’t Christmas anymore and that’s why I hate it. I have to learn to not just be a hater and sit back and moan and complain, but instead be proactive in how I handle my Christmas season. Every year Rachel and I make gifts for each other, we aren’t allowed to buy each other things. The last few years I’ve been buying people in Africa turkeys and chickens so they can sustain their families, instead of giving my family anything. Other people have responded differently. There is Buy Nothing Christmas alternatives. There is Buy Something Christmas. You can buy stuff for families who are in need.

Sometimes I wonder if I should do anything with the gifts/money that is given to me for Christmas. After all it really is easy to just not give anything and receive away with open arms. What if I took all the money and gifts I was given for Christmas and turned around and gave it away to someone else? Would that work or be a valid alternative? I see that offending a lot of people, but it might help get across the message that I really don’t want/need anything and might help people for thinking about what they do with their resources for upcoming holidays. Any thoughts on that one?

The point is to just not be another clueless consumer who buys out of guilt or necessity for no other reason than because it’s Christmas and that’s just what you do. We don’t need to buy more and for the most part the people that we buy for don’t need anything else. I like where Jordon is coming from, “Don’t “buy nothing” this Christmas but use some of your wealth to make a real difference in someone’s life.” I love the idea of Buy Nothing Christmas also as a discipline to break the cycle that is present in most of our lives. Make it a Do Something Christmas instead of just another Do What I’ve Always Done and Buy Anything Christmas. Do something to break the cycle, do something to actually help someone else, do something for Jesus this Christmas, after all it is supposed to be his birthday.

Sometimes it’s weird reading posts from a couple years ago. But here they are anyway.
Posts from 2006
Why I Hate Christmas but Love Turkey
Miroslav Volf at Christmas

Posts from 2005
Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Return of the Sun

Post from 2004

My Christmas became X’mas

7 Comments

  • Personally I too hate Christmas. Thank God I only have two people to buy for. But what I really hate are the get-togethers. Frankly I live in constant dread of the holidays. I’m going to stop, I’m rambling.

  • Nathan,
    In celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, one of the things that I have found most helpful is the practice of Advent which begins on the first of the four Sundays before Dec. 25. The church has for centuries been practising this as a way to prepare one’s heart for what Christmas really is. It’s a time of preparation.
    Also, in Holland, they have what they call St Nick’s Day on Dec. 5/6 at which time they do the exchanging of gifts. That way Christmas Day is about remembering and celebrating the gift of God’s love with family.
    Highlights for me this Christmas have been hearing Handle’s Messiah performed in it’s entirerty with my wife (I was so moved), attending a Lesson in Carols at an Episcipal Church, purchasing gifts for children that come from less fortunate homes, providing food baskets and gift cards for needy families, looking for simple ways to help someone in need, help serve a meal at one of our local soup kitchens,watching our Sunday School children perform the Children’s Christmas pageant, witnessing others giving generously to individuals and families in our church in an anonymous way.
    I won’t change the world, but I can influence those around me. I’ve made in at goal of mine to sign up for a mornning or two next December to ring the Salvation Army bells to collect money to help those in need. I’m also looking forward to being with my family on Christmas day, reading the Christmas story from the scriptures, and watching my granddaughters enjoy the gifts they recieve.
    One of my favorite things that I have enjoyed this Christmas is wishing eveeryone I meet “Merry Christmas” rather than ‘happy holidays’. Like you imply Christmas without Christ is nothing but Xmas and to me X means I got it wrong.
    Merry Christmas to you and your lovely wife Rachel

  • I only wish there was more people like you DVV in the world who thought about the real meaning and was proactive about the way they go into Christmas. Really that is my issue, it’s people who aren’t thinking and just go with the flow and whatever commercials tell them. So I want to be as influential as possible in helping people rethink what Christmas is all about.

    Thanks for the comment Uncle Doug :)
    Merry Christmas to the family.

  • Your blog is proof that I am not alone in this world. Thank you.

    And for those of you who, like myself, tend to do more damage than good during the holidays by expressing your opinions about consumerism, etc., buy your loved ones some toms shoes instead. ( http://www.tomsshoes.com )

  • Well, I was going to get you a Wii for Christmas…. but screw you hippie.

  • I was thinking how I was loving the view point of this person DVV. Didn’t know DVV was my brother until you responded. If Doug reads this: I think you got the right idea Doug. You must have great parents!

  • We as a culture seem to have entirely forgotten how to “celebrate” in my humble opinion.

    Rather than a much needed break from the demands of life, we now see preparing for gatherings and choosing gifts for those we care about as onerous tasks to be avoided or at best approached with dread.

    I don’t want to influence anyone, I don’t want to Do Nothing, Do Something, Buy, Not Buy, hide out or rant.

    I want to enjoy the excuses to see people I don’t get to see often enough. I want to see my children giggle and smile. I want to enjoy the slow to a crawl pace work and projects take on. I want to see lights and festive decorations. I want a big turkey meal and open crackers that bang. I want to hear songs that bring back cherished memories and songs that make me roll my eyes. I want to hear Charlie Brown rant about the commercialization of Christmas again and feel sad for his little tree. I want George Bailey to see once again he’s the richest man in town. I want to stay up too late. I want to drink just one too many glasses of wine. I want to eat breakfast in my housecoat with my wife and kids with bows and crumpled paper at our feet. I want to stop and contemplate how my saviour came into my world.

    I want to celebrate.

    I’ll worry about changing the world in January, it’s a dull month anyway.