A holiday without gifts brought Christmas joy

Starving childI have had great Christmas Eves in my childhood, some even made such an impact on me that I can today after 50 year replay them in my inner visual mind. We also had beatiful Christmas Eves in my family when the children were small. In ther Amazon Forum “No Gift Christmas” I agree with the person who wrote: “I love seeing kids’ eyes sparkle when they see presents under the tree. I was a kid, I haven’t forgotten that thrill.” But why continue the same traditions among adults?

For several reasons I now feel really bad about the Christmas gift tradition. I dont know why really. But reading in the newspapers about those many, especcially lonely mothers, who can’t afford to buy gifts to their children, reading today about the Scandinavians who spend about 14 billion Euros for Christmas Eve, about all those who are alone Christmas Eve because they dont have a family or relatives around, I simply get disgusted. Not thinking about all those millions of children who don’t get food enough.

And what are we buying then? Tons of “Oh great , Just what i wanted” gifts and we talk about carying about our environment, about social responsability about wars and starving. This Scandinavian Christmas tradition has gone sick. I would even prefer to move this tradition until the 6th of January, that means at Epiphany. Or why not, give 2000 crowns to some charity organisation. We dont need those gifts.

What we need instead is more time to be together, to talk and have fun. And I believe Christmas gifts are not the key of friendship, love and happiness. I love to be with relatives and friends to eat and talk together. I found this old article from 2005:

For the first time in my life, I exchanged no Christmas gifts with my family. For two decades, I had fussed about the consumerism of Christmas, the ridiculous overemphasis on tinsel and toys, the corruption of a simple religious holiday. But until this year, I had never dared spurn the gift exchange. I could still hear my relatives’ caustic remarks when someone couldn’t be bothered to send more than a fruit basket; my grandmother’s calculus of her children’s love by the thoughtfulness–and elegance–of their gifts. I knew my mother wasn’t like that. By grace and sheer will, she had escaped. Yet I could not risk her thinking, even for an irrational second, that I did not love her to the bursting point.

This year, however, fate conspired. Our sun porch floor rotted; the glass block required re-mortaring; there were car repairs and medical bills. And then my mother-in-law said, “Oh, let’s not do presents this year,” and we leaped at the suggestion.

I have never had such a wonderful holiday.

It felt odd not shopping for those closest to me, odd not debating what they’d want, odd not having boxes and boxes to wrap and place under the tree. But suddenly I had all sorts of energy for the rest of the rituals…

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