I thought this was a pretty appropriate note letting people know that, as we approach the Time of Shopping, they could leave me off their lists. This is my one-person passive protest against consumerism. Because really, Christmastime has become more about the gifts and the sales and the stuff than the love for a lot of people. I just want the love. I’ve always loved Christmas, and I remember spending days going through catalogs and circling the things I wanted. I don’t even remember what I asked for or received most years. These are the gifts I remember the most:
- A music box with Disney’s Aladdin and Jasmine on the flying carpet, some time around age 5 or 6. My dad wrote a very long note about how I was not to shake the box because it was fragile, and I thought it was a joke so I shook it anyway. It was fine, but I did lose it at some point through the years and I bought one on ebay a couple years ago because I missed it and it reminds me of my dad. It’s on my filing cabinet at work.
- A “Boxcar Children” book from my aunt, when I was around 5 or 6. I remember saying “Ew, I don’t like these books,” and my mom told me to be appreciative and give it a chance. I quickly consumed ALL THE BOXCAR CHILDREN BOOKS. I even “left a mystery” in the house when we moved out of it. It was not a good mystery, it was some pokemon cards stuffed into a hole in a closet wall. I am mildly ashamed of this.
- A stuffed animal seal, around age 11. It was donated by someone because we were part of an adopt-a-family program. I have donated gifts to families in need since then, always remembering and being thankful for those who gave me that seal.
- A glass chess set from my brother, age 11. It was gorgeous and wonderful.
- A laptop computer from both my parents when I started college (age 17). I saved the gift tag for years because it was the first “Love, Mom and Dad” gift I had seen since they divorced when I was seven.
- This year my mom is paying for my hotel stay in Spain as my Christmas gift, because she is awesome.
I remember how those gifts made me feel. All of these gifts were in tune with the things I loved and appreciated, like my favorite movie (Aladdin, at the time), a favorite hobby (reading), a game I had recently learned to love (chess), and something I needed for school (the computer). This year, mom’s picking up my hotel tab and I have no additional expectations for more gifts, because that gift of having a place to stay on my vacation is plenty, even without a tangible item. I’m minimizing tangible items, remember?
But putting parameters on gifts like this is a little inappropriate because it’s the thought that counts, right? My counter-argument to this is that all I want is the thought. I want my family and friends to think about me this season, to call me on the phone and catch up, to go out to lunch, or to just spend some time with me. My “parameters” for the gifts I would like are the same parameters I set when I’m shopping for myself — I do my best to buy local, sustainable, Fair Trade, and made in America products. I do not always succeed, but I make an effort and I am always thinking about what my dollars mean.
(My iPhone is staring at me like I’m a hypocrite right now. Are there any ethically made cell phones?)
All I ask is that, if someone is going to get me a gift (which they are in no way obligated to do), they get me something that resonates with my personal values and beliefs.
Are you taking any particular stands on this matter for the holidays?