Sunday, December 5, 2010

Zen Habits: The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents

Every Christmas, the children/kids/young adults in my family swap gifts - as I'm sure many of your families do. All of our names are put into th nearest container that will hold five slips of paper and we each draw one. Here is a photo of MY family:
Matthew, Erin, Colin, Dad, Mom, Shauna & Kelli
This year, I drew the name of my brother, Matthew.  Matthew is two years older than I am and our relationship has only grown since we've grown up.  We have a bunch of similarities but he also excels at things that I can't even begin to understand.  So.  What do I give to my brother for Christmas??  The obvious answers flashed through my mind - camping gear, climbing gear, books, or geeky computer stuff.  It's perfect that those are all the same things I would expect in a gift.  Expect in a gift.  Hmmm....

I came across this article.  First it made me feel enormously guilty - because it's all true.  The bit about spending money to fill a void, provide momentary satisfaction, etc.  I do that.  I love shopping.  And it IS so wasteful.  A great friend of mine asked me this question once, "Can you think of a piece of clothing that has changed your life?"  Arbitrary pieces of clothing certainly came to mine first - shoes (yes, my life would be different if I could not wear shoes. pain. duh.), winter coats and clothing with hoods, socks, underwear, etc.  All of it IS necessary.  BUT - I couldn't think of ONE specific item of clothing that has changed my life.  I thought of random items of clothing that I happened to be wearing in memorable photos that decorate our house and photo albums - like the terrible pink polka-dot skirt I wore on one of my birthdays.

The point is this:  Clothing, in essence, doesn't matter.  It's meant to be functional and stylish - but not a source of confidence and pleasure.  And I'm completely guilty of this.  As are you.  There, we're in the same boat!  I'm not the only bad one!

Anyway.  Back to the matter at hand.  BUYING a Christmas gift is easy.  Paying for a gift is easy.  Perusing the web for cool things is easy.  Finding something, anything, that your loved one will smile about when the tear away the wrapping paper is easy.  But something that creates a lasting memory?  A moment?  A bond?  (I know, this is sounding cheesy - often the seemingly unattainable things DO sound cheesy a.k.a. Cinderella? Forgive me, ha.)  THOSE things are hard to find.

So, my new goal is to find a gift for my broha that is meaningful in some way.  No, I'm not going to spray pasta gold and paste it to a tissue box - but I will search for a gift with the same spirit.  Kids always do it right, don't they?

1 comment:

  1. Not gonna lie...I really wish we didn't have to wear clothes.