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Each year around this time we expect the holiday season to bring us closer together but, does it? Far too many people obsess over getting and giving gifts to the point where they lose sight of what truly matters. 

The heart of Christmas regardless of your views should come from a place of love and care rather than greed and selfishness or perhaps for some selflessness to the point where they become overly stressed and ready for things to be over with. Growing up I saw this happen frequently. For instance, my parents would become so stressed about being able to provide us (the children) with a ‘good Christmas’ that they would end up forgetting what things are actually all about. 

Rather than spending time with us and enjoying each other as a whole they would close themselves off a bit and were more-so interested in just ‘getting through’ the holiday rather than experiencing it properly. That being said, there are also people who use this time to ask for some of the most insane gifts and expect far too much of those in their lives. 

Whether you’re one of the two or perhaps just someone who wants to be with your family we should be doing our best to remind others that when it comes to Christmas, more ‘stuff’ is the last thing we all need. In such a cold and saddening world we need more love, more compassion, and more willingness to consider the fact that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. There are children who wake up and have nothing under their trees and there are also children who don’t even get to enjoy holidays at all. Some are more worried about having their basic needs met than anything else.

Sure, for those of us who live in more developed countries like the US the idea of not having clean drinking water or having to live in a shack without proper heating is not something you hear about every day but it is a reality for many in smaller or less developed countries. There are people in this world who are struggling in ways most of us could never imagine and being thankful for all we have is important. Sure, being able to read this on your smartphone is nice but there are people in this world who have never even seen a smartphone before. 

I recently came across an article on MoneyWise that was titled ‘Here’s Why You Should Stop Buying Christmas Presents’ and it really got me thinking about this kind of thing. We burn through so much money during the holidays, especially on Christmas itself. Not only are we in most cases piling up debt to cover the costs, but we’re also losing sight of the togetherness that we should be focusing on.

We don’t have to cut gift-giving out entirely, but we do need to look at it from an outside perspective and see just where we stand in everything. You can show someone that you love and care for them without spending 40 bucks on a sweater that they end up having to pretend to like. Isn’t simply sharing a nice meal together and catching up enough?

Professors House wrote as follows on the topic:

Could it be that each and every one of us has simply slipped into the black hole of marketing ploys and commercialism – without realizing that our pocketbooks are being taken for a hayride over guilt mountains? What would YOUR Christmas be like without presents? How would you react, or your family if you decided to simply forego the fabricated tradition of exchanging gifts during this time of year?

Sadly, there are many people who feel much like Jo from Little Women did, when she said, “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any presents!” And so they (and likely you) shop. But it is worth considering what the true meaning of Christmas is to you and your family. There is always time to start new traditions, which perhaps focus more on the people in your life than the presents you can afford. And what an amazing gift THAT would be to pass down to your children. Chances are in 30 years, they won’t remember the gifts under the tree – but they will remember the smell of hot apple cider, and singing Christmas carols with mom and dad around a roaring fire. So YOU be the judge. Could you have a Christmas without any presents?

While I don’t think we should cut gift-giving out entirely, I do think we should be working to help others during this time and limiting things within reason. Gifts should just be a plus rather than the thing that we act as if the whole holiday revolves around, don’t you agree? This Christmas, remember to keep those who are not fortunate enough to be where you are in your thoughts. Christmas isn’t about presents, it’s about presence.