Rethinking Holiday Gifts (AKA – The Gift I Want More Than Anything This Year)

It’s been too long since I last posted on my blog. I spent much of October sick or helping take care of sick family members. I thought we were all doing okay for Samhain, and I enjoyed a lovely celebration with my grove, but then the crud crept back up on us and extended a little into November. Suddenly, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and everyone is talking about the holidays…

Truthfully, I’ve been thinking about Winter Solstice, Yuletide, and, yes, even Christmas. Specifically, I’ve been ruminating on the gift-giving associated with this time of year. (Of course, I could include a lot of other holidays that include exchanging presents, but these are the only ones that directly impact my family traditions.) I really want to make a change. So much of my religion is about reconnecting with nature, ancestral roots, and the spiritual. It’s not really about separating myself from the material or treating objects as somehow more profane. No, Druidry celebrates art and the act of creating tools and beauty. Material objects and heirlooms are fine to a point, but the consumerism really gets to me. (And trust me, as an author selling books…I have a lot of complicated feelings about it.)

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have too much stuff. I really do. I love and appreciate many of the items I have (heirlooms, art made by friends and family, items carefully selected for me by loved ones who really get me), but I also have a lot of random junk. Knickknacks given for the sake of giving something. Clothing given to fill a box yet doesn’t really reflect who I am. That may come across as unappreciative, but I know I’ve given similar things for a similar reason. Everyone is under pressure. We want to make people happy, add to that holiday cheer, and ensure everyone has lots of fun things to open!

But behind all that? Stress. So much stress! There’s the financial stress of obtaining gifts, then the stress that comes with figuring out where to put all the new stuff. Perhaps stress related to demonstrating to gift givers that you appreciate it all. It’s exhausting! Can we all just admit that it’s ruining the actual spirit of the holidays, whatever you celebrate?

In the past, I’ve written similar things here and elsewhere about how I want to focus more on experiences. I really want to return to that, especially for people beyond my home. I’ll continue to give a few carefully selected “fun things” to my daughter and other children in my life, and I know what my husband wants and needs (as well as what will actually fit in our home. This is key.). He and I are also picking out something together that we know we both want anyway. It keeps things simple but no less special. For all the other adults in my life? I’m thinking more about the experience of eating and drinking. Good food and beverages to be enjoyed. Maybe a small item to add comfort in the cold. Nothing that will break the bank or take up a lot of space. Or maybe we could all agree that the simple act of gathering and sharing a meal is gift enough? Maybe sing some seasonal songs together. Read a poem or excerpt from a favorite winter story? Stop giving stuff entirely! It would be a wonderful, magical thing, in all honestly. Honestly, in a society facing extreme environmental breakdown and financial ruin, it would be transformative; truly magical.

To family and friends reading this: honest to goodness, I don’t need more stuff. Especially large stuff! I’m sure you don’t either! Gods know I spent way too much time the last couple months lounging on the couch, feeling miserable, wishing I were out experiencing life instead of staring at the mess of stuff around me.

Can we please all make this change?

(And please, stop giving my child so many things! Her room is bursting at the seams! Give her a gift card to the zoo or art store. No more toys. Please.)

Published by M. A. Phillips

An author and Druid living in Northern NY.

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