It sounds cliché at Christmastime to say “presents aren’t important”, because don’t we all know that? Don’t we all know that it’s more important to give than to receive? Don’t we know that time spent together is more important than presents?
I would dare say we’ve all said it confidently, but do we really believe it, or are we secretly hoping we will be gifted the Louis Vuitton bag or thousand-piece tool set at the top of our wish lists?
Let’s be honest with ourselves. If our loved ones were to go broke during Christmas, and we gathered together with nothing but a small Christmas tree, would we be grateful to just be together or would we secretly be bitter that they didn’t buy us anything? I would venture to say many people would be bitter.
Would we be embarrassed if the same happened to us? What if we weren’t even able to afford items from the dollar store to give our families? How would we feel then? How would our family members feel? We would hope they wouldn’t be bitter.
Sadly, this is the reality for many families each Christmas season. A recent survey conducted by the online financial service “One” revealed that 46% of middle-class families aren’t able to purchase Christmas gifts without going into debt. What about lower class families?
Another study conducted by WalletHub concluded that one in three Americans didn’t purchase gifts for Christmas in 2020, mainly because they weren’t able to. What about this year?
According to Grist.org, the average individual spends $1,500 on gifts during Christmas time. We’ve all heard people talk about skipping bills during the month of December to be able to purchase everyone the perfect gift. We’ve also heard of people saving up their pennies all year long. Why isn’t this more of a shock to us? Perhaps, because of gift giving and receiving pressure.
With all that said, this year the price of presents has significantly gone up, but many of our salaries haven’t. If it wasn’t difficult before to purchase the perfect gift, it is now. There’s an intense pressure to buy the right gift, and we will go broke to do it. We sabotage ourselves, because we often think other’s impressions of us are shaped by the gifts we give, because the impression of others to us, is shaped by the gifts they give us. It’s really sad.
How can we change this in a world full of consumerism? Well, I’m not sure. I suppose it starts with each individual working to change his/her perception of how we see gifts. Maybe we need to stop for a moment and make a list of everything free that we are thankful for this holiday season, like being with friends and family, Jesus, and the holiday spirit.
There may come a day when you aren’t able to give the perfect gift and there may come a time when you won’t receive the item at the top of your wish list. That time may come sooner than you think. If we work on our attitudes regarding gifts right now, we won’t be disappointed in the future.