Every year I assure my family that I won’t go crazy with gifts at Christmas, and every year they end up staring at me from behind a mountain of things they need to find space for. At the risk of sounding weird, I can see now that I was being a bit unmannerly. Saddling people with armfuls of things that’ll sit in a pile on the floor making them feel guilty about not wanting any of it just isn’t nice, and when the time comes to part with the unwanted stuff, they’ll have to go through the unpleasant process of feeling bad about getting rid of ‘perfectly good’ items for which they have no use. Why would I do that to people I care about?
Over the years, I’ve become more aware of hyper-consumerism and my role in it, and I’ve begun making an effort not to buy my way out of whatever emotional low I am having. I can see that over-gifting is simply transferring that trauma onto others, and I don’t want to do that to anyone.
I come from a long line of over-shoppers, and it’s not an easy cycle to break. There is constant pressure to go all out at Christmas, and we’re conditioned to fear disappointing other people this time of year. The importation of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ramp up our insecurities and make us feel we need to spend early and often to meet the fake expectations placed upon us by retailers. It’s an insidious cycle.
In order to break the cycle, I’ve decided to whittle gifts down to those that are needed (like skincare I know a person uses and loves), edible, or readable. My goal is not to make the recipient feel they have to find a place to store something they don’t need or want, because that in itself is a gift. Ensuring my loved ones feel relaxed, happy, and well-fed over the holiday period is the best gift I can offer.