So Christmas is just around the corner again (starting earlier every year), and the shopping frenzy has begun (if you think I’m exaggerating, I just Googled ‘Black Friday’ and the second sponsored result actually boasted a ‘Price Frenzy’ at Comet!)
If you don’t know what Black Friday is, this should enlighten you.
For a long time, probably since Christmas stopped being the mega-exciting event it was when I was a kid, I have had a bit of a problem with the whole gift exchanging thing.
From an early age, I was encouraged to make a Christmas list, to let Santa know all the things I wanted. And even after Santa had made his true identity known, the festive season always brought with it the inevitable “What do you want for Christmas?” questions.
This is where my issue lies; If we ask someone what gift they want, and buy it for them, and they do the same for us, is it really a gift? Why don’t we just buy the things we want for ourselves? There is no surprise involved, you know what the present is before you open it. Wrapping the gift is merely a formality dictated by tradition.
So whenever I’m asked what I want for Christmas, I always get an uneasy feeling, but I offer a few suggestions of things I might like, or more recently, add a few items to my Amazon wishlist.
I’ve always tried to be a bit more original when buying gifts for other people. I rarely ask them what they want unless I really can’t think of anything they would like, and I like seeing people open gifts when they have no idea what they are.
But yesterday I read Leo Babauta’s article The No New Gifts Holiday Challenge on Zen Habits, and it really brought home to me how meaningless the act of exchanging Christmas gifts has become.
I love the idea of buying no new gifts, and I think it’s a really important message to teach children that buying gifts is not a good way to express your love.
So this year I implore all of you creative folks to put your skills to good use, and create some artistic gifts for your loved ones.
Paint a portrait, write a poem, make a purse, give someone a tattoo, whatever creative talent you have, you can make gifts from it and give your friends and family something unique that comes from you, not from the Apple store.
If you want to read more about opting out of buying Christmas gifts, read The Minimalists’ essay The Blackest of Fridays.
How do you feel about Christmas gift exchange? Will you be opting out of consumerism this year? Would your family understand? Leave a comment below and we can discuss it.