Although I love love love Christmas, I feel like I have a harder time each year with Black Friday and the shopping and the consumer culture, especially in the face of the real lack that exists here and around the world. It makes me physically queasy and part of me wants to opt out entirely of the gifts. It's not like there is a single person I will exchange gifts with this year that actually needs some physical thing that I can wrap up for them. I am not a Scrooge; I love the music and a pretty Christmas tree and special fancy meals and, gosh, having kids at Christmastime has made it WAY MORE AWESOME, but still the commercials on TV and the parking at the mall and the vast amount of crap being bought is just horrifying, just gross. I think what helps me face it all is that every year we do a little bit better, a little bit more to make Christmas what we actually want it to be. Fewer gifts, more meaning.
This video is from last year and I find it so moving. In the interest of full disclosure, it has made me nearly cry about half a dozen times:
And here is this year's video from the same organization, which I find not quite as moving but is still great:
I find these ideas really challenging because it is HARD to invest meaningful amounts of time with people, especially with our family members who live far away. It is easier to spend money via some online shopping to send them a gift. One option that we often take advantage of is a gift from World Vision; it is such a good option for people who don't have anything they really want or need but who you want to remember with a gift. They send you these little cards that describe what you chose (chickens or a small business loan for a woman or a well) that you can wrap up and send to your recipient. I'm very happy about exercising this option but I would like to do more gifts that are personal but still outside the consumer consciousness. Last year, Rob's parents asked for a thumb drive with a lot of photos of us on it for them to use in their digital picture frame; I would like to be able to think of more things like that, things that involve our time and energy but not some wasteful tchotchke that had to be manufactured and shipped and will then collect dust.
And if you're in the mood for a little Christmas music, go listen to some Sufjan in my Advent post from last year. I was very tempted to post that video again because I just love it/him/that whole album but I restrained myself.