Archive for October 8th, 2013

How to have the Christmas you’ve always wanted – part 6

October 8, 2013

Inside The Christmas Machine

Mention gift-giving to a group of people and you’ll get a variety of responses.
While they get pleasure from giving gifts to the special people in their lives,
they have problems with the Christmas gift-giving thing. One problem they have
is they feel they have to give elaborate, expensive gifts. Commercials on the
television and radio, store ads, and store displays shout, “The more you buy and
the more you spend show how much you love the ones on your gift list.” They
just can’t afford giving these gifts. Another problem they have is that
exchanging gifts at Christmas has very little value. They’re either trying to
give something to someone who already has everything or they’re not able tailor
each gift to the needs or desires of the recipient. One of the biggest problems
people have with Christmas gift-giving, however, is the spiritual aspect of
Christmas is drowned out by the commercial aspect. Stores are saying, “Spend,
spend, spend.” Children are saying, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.” Rarely outside of
churches will you hear, “Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. Happy birthday, Jesus!”

So, how can we simplify Christmas gift-giving? One thing we can do is break the
10 unspoken self-defeating gift-giving rules:
1. Give a gift to everyone you expect to get one from.
2. If someone gives you a gift unexpectedly, you should reciprocate that year,
even if you had no previous intention of giving that person a present.
3. When you give someone a gift, you should plan to give that person a gift
every year thereafter.
4. The amount of time and money you spend on a gift should be directly
proportional to how much you care about the recipient.
5. The gift that you give someone should be equal in monetary value and/or
personal significance to the one you receive from that person.
6. The presents you give someone should be fairly consistent over the years.
7. If you give a gift to a person in one category (for example: coworkers or
neighbors) you should give gifts to everyone in that category. And these gifts
should be similar.
8. The gifts you give your children should be equal in number and monetary
value, while at the same time suiting the unique qualities of each child.
9. Men should not give gifts to their male friends, unless the gifts are
alcoholic beverages. Women, however, are encouraged to give gifts to their
female friends, and those gifts should not be alcohol.
10. Homemade gifts are more “meaningful” than store-bought ones.

A second thing we can do is give token gifts. Either make them yourself or shop
for them at garage sales or thrift stores. Some families make a game of this by
seeing who can give the most interesting gift for the least amount of money.

Giving gifts of time and energy is a third way we can simplify our gift-giving.
Give coupon books that the recipient can redeem for various acts of kindness or
gifts of time, or offer to do a chore for a month or some other period or time.

A fourth idea is give a donation to those in need or to the recipient’s favorite
charity in lieu of a gift. Even teenagers go for these gifts.

No matter what you come up with to simplify your gift-giving, gifts given with
love and sensitivity give Christmas fresh meaning.

The following exercises will help you examine and simplify your gift-giving this

Exercise 1: Gift Inventory
In the space below, list all the people you gave gifts to last year. Be sure to
include friends, neighbors, coworkers, and children of friends or neighbors.
Put a dollar sign by each person you spent more than ten dollars on.

Exercise 2: Four Gift Fantasies
1. Imagine yourself in hte following situations and check the ones that are
most appealing to you.
A. You open the mail one morning and discover that you have inherited $250
to spend on Christmas presents this year.
B. You are given two weeks of absolutely free time to devote to making
Christmas gifts.
C. Every member of your family is excited about exchanging simpler and
less expensive gifts.
D. Everyone in the nation decides to eliminate gift-giving from the
celebration. There is no holiday advertising, no gift-giving obligations.
People celebrate Christmas by joining with family and friends, by feasting, and
with family and community Christmas activities.

2. Judging by your reactions to these imaginary situations, what changes would
you ideally like to make in your family gift-giving?

Exercise 3: Gift Memories
1. Think back over past Christmases and remember a gift that you received that
gave you great pleasure. What did you especially like about that gift?

2. Now remember a gift you received that make you feel anxious, confused,
angry, or disappointed. What was it about that situation that bothered you?

3. All in all, what kind of gifts do you feel best about receiving and giving?

The Christmas Pledge

Believing in the beauty and simplicity of Christmas, I commit myself to the
1. To remember those people who truly need my gifts
2. To express my love for family and friends in more direct ways than presents
3. To rededicate myself to the spiritual growth of my family
4. To examine my holiday activities in light of the true spirit of Christmas
5. To initiate one act of peacemaking within my circle of family and friends

The material presented here was taken from the book Unplug The Christmas Machine
by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli published by William Morrow and
Company, Inc.

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